European Union Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier speaks during a plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels, Belgium, January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that the “backstop” provision in the agreement for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc could not be time-limited, since that would defeat its purpose of guaranteeing no hard Irish border.
Interviewed on German public radio on Thursday, Barnier added that it would be impossible for London to reach a separate deal with Dublin on the border, since Ireland’s border would also become the border to the EU and the internal market.
“A backstop agreement is about reassuring the Irish that there will be no hard border,” Barnier said. “Remember, it’s not just about Ireland, every good crossing is entering the single market: it affects Germany, France, Poland.”
The deal he and British officials had negotiated was the best one available given Britain’s “famous red lines”, he said, adding that other options would become available if those changed.
Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, Tassilo Hummel and Caroline Copley, editing by Thomas Escritt