'Ireland first' in all negotiations between United Kingdom and European Union, insists Tusk

Lester Mason
March 13, 2018

That frustration was reinforced by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who also told EU legislators that "there is increasing urgency to negotiate this orderly withdrawal".

Agreeing a transition period after Britain's formal departure from the European Union bloc by next week is tricky, as London and Brussels are at loggerheads over how to organise the border between the Republic of Ireland and British province Northern Ireland.

The Donegal TD said the guidelines give a central prominence to fishing in the talks process moving forward, the key concerns of the separation of fisheries from other sectors as well as the retention of existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources are fully recognised in the draft text.

Prime Minister Theresa May fleshed out proposals for the post-Brexit relationship in a speech last week.

Best for Britain, a campaign group, says it plans to launch a lawsuit to secure a referendum on Britain's European Union withdrawal treaty.

Juncker said: "The 27 member states stand firm and united when it comes to Ireland".

In strident comments on the matter, Mr Tusk said: "If in London someone assumes that the negotiations will deal with other issues first, before moving to the Irish issue, my response would be: Ireland first".

British officials deny this ultimatum amounted to talks being frozen at the issue until it can be resolved, but the schedule for this week's discussions show that they will nearly exclusively focus on the same "separation" issues that were the subject of the December agreement, including the Irish border - with only one line in the schedule designated for transition talks.

Many saw the speech as a clarification of London's position on the future EU-Britain relationship, but Juncker's Wednesday statements indicate that speeches will not take the place of signed agreements.

In the speech May suggested Britain would commit to keeping some European Union regulations and standards while reserving the option to diverge in others.

Back in Brussels the day before, O'Leary of Ryanair said a stalemate in the Brexit negotiations points to serious disruptions for airlines.

During Tuesday's session they were equally unimpressed with the EU's approach. The second proposal is for a "highly streamlined customs arrangement, where [the United Kingdom and the EU] would jointly agree to implement a range of measures to minimise frictions to trade, together with specific provisions for Northern Ireland". He recently said in an interview that "sceptics" to such a deal were wrong, and that it would be "in our mutual interest" to establish a free trade agreement when Britain leaves the European Union next year.

"We are open for business".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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