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Ireland floats special EU-UK customs union as way to break Brexit logjam

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Ireland floats special EU-UK customs union as way to break Brexit logjam

By Ian Graham

 

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Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

BELFAST (Reuters) - Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called on Friday for the European Union and Britain to find "unique solutions" to their Brexit logjam, including a bespoke customs union.

 

That would solve the problem of a hard border in Ireland once Britain has left the EU, something that is of great concern to Dublin.

 

Varadkar, a new face at EU summits since taking office in June, also suggested Brussels may accede to Britain's insistence that a post-Brexit body other than the European Court of Justice oversee bilateral issues, such as citizens rights and aviation regulation.

 

He said, however, that all these "practical solutions" would need to be asked for and would not be offered.

 

Varadkar was speaking in the British province of Northern Ireland as part of a drive to find a compromise that would avoid a hugely damaging hard border being erected across the island of Ireland.

 

Dublin is hoping compromise can be reached ahead of a key Brexit summit in October, which Varadkar described as a "historic meeting for this island."

"Time is running out and I fear there will be no extra time allowed," he told students at the Great Hall at Queen's University in Belfast.

In a wide-ranging speech during his first visit to Northern Ireland as Irish prime minister, Varadkar made several proposals to try to break the Brexit logjam.

 

He said a bilateral customs union could be based on one the EU currently has with Turkey. "If we have one with Turkey. Surely we can have one with the United Kingdom?" he said.

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said Britain will leave the EU's customs union when it leaves the bloc in order to pursue its own trade agreements with countries around the world.

 

A bilateral customs union would appear to imply that both sides would be free to strike deals with third parties, though Varadkar did not provide detail of the proposal.

 

British membership of the European Free Trade Agreement was also an option, or failing that, Britain could remain in the single market and the customs union during a transition phase, he said.

 

Asked about the proposals, a spokeswoman for the British government said Britain had "been clear that we want a deep and special future partnership with the EU, including a bold and ambitious free trade agreement and a customs agreement."

 

IRISH BORDER?

 

Ireland, which after Brexit will have the EU's only land border with the United Kingdom, is widely seen as the EU country most exposed to the fall-out from Britain's leaving.

 

The issue of how the Republic and Northern Ireland will fare is particularly sensitive given the decades of violence in the province over whether it should be part of Britain or Ireland. Around 3,600 people were killed before the 1998 peace agreement.

 

Varadkar last week said his government would oppose any customs posts or immigration checks on the land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, but he did not say where they should be placed instead.

 

There have been no customs or immigration checks on the 500 km (310 mile) border since the European single market came into effect in 1993. About 30,000 people cross every day without any border checks.

 

The future of that border is one of three issues -- along with EU citizens' rights and British budget payments to the EU -- on which Brussels says there must be "significant progress" before talks can begin on the free-trade deal London wants.

 

Varadkar also suggested that the EU may be considering compromise on its insistence that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) oversee key elements of any future relationship, such as citizens' rights to live in the United Kingdom and the oversight of regulation of sectors like aviation and nuclear power.

 

May's opposition to any oversight by the ECJ has been a key stumbling block in talks.

 

"At the moment the mechanism by which most European agreements are upheld is through the European Court of Justice and the United Kingdom has indicated it no longer wishes to be part of. So we would need to develop some other mechanism," Varadkar said.

 

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-08-05

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Posted (edited)

This guy is a real brainbox

 

The UK is leaving the current customs union and the EU, the UK will no longer be part of the current free trading and free movement area as it is now.

 

What goes in their place may be a type of customs arrangement and a new trade agreement between the UK and the EU (that possibly requires the UK to pay for such a facility), that is what they are aiming for, it does not solve the free movement issue across the UK and Irish border, some sort of check must be in place to stop none Irish EU citizens crossing illegally into the UK, the UK will enforce border controls across all its borders, Irish citizens may be exempt 

Edited by smedly

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The Taoiseach is thinking intelligently about this. That is more than can be said for May's motley crew of Brexit negotiators!

 

Anyone found time to read Alice in Brexitland yet? Go on, you'll enjoy it! For those with limited reading ability, it is available as a podcast?. (Travel tip for U.K. holiday makers: read it while waiting to enter or leave the Schengen area)

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Posted (edited)

Might this be the first sign of something the Europhiles in Brussels will not like?

 

As for the supposedly amateuristic way Britain is handling the Brexit, well, seeming to be amateuristic certainly is the trademark of Britain.

Edited by hansnl

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17 minutes ago, Baerboxer said:

 

He's trying to put forward sensible, pragmatic ideas and possible solutions. That would actually be beneficial to all and help unblock the log jam.

 

Wonder how long before the Germans and French pull him to one side and explain they're in charge? Actually he just might be strong enough to tell them to CK'off which might be interesting.

what he spoke about was exactly what the UK is pushing for - agreements on customs - agreement on trade, as for borders - that is the responsibility of the UK when they leave the EU because simply put - they are UK borders, as for the UK border between Northern Ireland and the republic or Ireland - like I said above, I believe Irish Nationals will still be able to move freely as they have done for decades, other EU nationals will not.

 

The UK may have to make a donation for the customs and Free Trade arrangements, I see nothing wrong with that at all, but the UK will be free to trade with whoever they like across the world with the EU becoming less important as these trade agreements evolve. Nothing stupid about that is there lol

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Posted (edited)

Well one solution being suggested is that all Northern Ireland residents be issued with Irish passports which would actually be re-unification in everything other than name. Kudos to Mr Varadkar approaching this difficult problem in a practical way.

30 minutes ago, smedly said:

so being amaturistic is not bending over and taking the nonsense that is currently be spewed from the EU negotiating team lol

 

waken up and smell the cheese, the UK is jumping from a sinking ship - just as well we kept our own currency or leaving would not be possible. Yes the Stupid British, lets wait and see how the EU gets on without them lol

 

Not long to wait.

Well I suppose it is how you look at it.  The EU have made their position clear and so far the British team have been totally non committal.  They haven't said yes or no or come up with any alternatives that we know of.  The EU negotiators keep pushing the UK to get on with it as the clock is certainly ticking.  They really do come across as being clueless so far.

 

As for "Not long to wait" well I am not sure about that either.  Probably four more years with the transition period?  That is the current thinking but nobody seems to know about that either.

Edited by dunroaming
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32 minutes ago, smedly said:

so being amaturistic is not bending over and taking the nonsense that is currently be spewed from the EU negotiating team lol

 

waken up and smell the cheese, the UK is jumping from a sinking ship - just as well we kept our own currency or leaving would not be possible. Yes the Stupid British, lets wait and see how the EU gets on without them lol

 

Not long to wait.

No, the Europhiles think the British are amateuristic, exactly what Britain wants the EU to believe.

I sincerely hope The Netherlands will follow the British example.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Baerboxer said:

 

He's trying to put forward sensible, pragmatic ideas and possible solutions. That would actually be beneficial to all and help unblock the log jam.

 

Wonder how long before the Germans and French pull him to one side and explain they're in charge? Actually he just might be strong enough to tell them to CK'off which might be interesting.

If Germans are anything they're pragmatists! 

 

They even have a word word for it: Pragmatismus ?

Edited by Grouse

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Isn't it a shame that there aren't more leaders like Leo Varadkar in the EU? Sensible and pragmatic.

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14 minutes ago, hansnl said:

No, the Europhiles think the British are amateuristic, exactly what Britain wants the EU to believe.

I sincerely hope The Netherlands will follow the British example.

This century? I doubt it

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57 minutes ago, smedly said:

what he spoke about was exactly what the UK is pushing for - agreements on customs - agreement on trade, as for borders - that is the responsibility of the UK when they leave the EU because simply put - they are UK borders, as for the UK border between Northern Ireland and the republic or Ireland - like I said above, I believe Irish Nationals will still be able to move freely as they have done for decades, other EU nationals will not.

 

The UK may have to make a donation for the customs and Free Trade arrangements, I see nothing wrong with that at all, but the UK will be free to trade with whoever they like across the world with the EU becoming less important as these trade agreements evolve. Nothing stupid about that is there lol

 

Most illegal migrants head for the mainland. It's easy to put checkpoints in place at the ports.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Khun Han said:

Isn't it a shame that there aren't more leaders like Leo Varadkar in the EU? Sensible and pragmatic.

Well there're certainly none in Theresa May's cabal. Though there are some in Cable's cabal!

Edited by Grouse

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18 minutes ago, Khun Han said:

 

Most illegal migrants head for the mainland. It's easy to put checkpoints in place at the ports.

I can assure you 100% there will be no border checkpoints within the UK, the idea is quite frankly idiotic, there is only one border that needs to be managed - UK and the Irish republic, why on earth would the UK erect a border within the UK, border controls will be set up between the UK and EU, like I said above and now for the 3rd time, Irish citizens may retain the special status they have had for decades with the UK and it works both ways

 

The is no other way to manage a UK border with a foreign country, all the ideas and suggestions for alternatives being put forward so far are diversions and tactics, going forward a border will exist between the UK and the EU countries ...... period, no exceptions  

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