Published On: Wed, Sep 4th, 2019

EU running scared: Backstop is the ONLY answer – There will be checks | UK | News

Eurocrats revealed today they are not yet ready to drop their demands for the Irish border despite an effort to find alternatives to avoid customs checks. In a bloc-wide communication, they took a thinly-veiled swipe at Mr Johnson for not yet putting forward proposals that protect both the single market and Good Friday Agreement. Brussels has pledged to continue working with Ireland in a bid to avoid a hard border if Britain leaves the EU without an agreement.

The Commission said: “The backstop provided for by the withdrawal agreement is the only solution identified that safeguards the Good Friday Agreement, ensures compliance with international law obligations and preserves the integrity of the internal market.”

EU officials fear that a no deal “will lead to two distinct fiscal and regulatory spaces on the island of Ireland”.

This the communication hints could lead to the need of a border because “EU law will require that all goods entering Ireland from the United Kingdom be subject to the relevant checks and controls to protect the safety and health of EU citizens, preserve the integrity of the internal market and enforce compliance with fiscal obligations”.

Brussels and Dublin have both expressed their willingness to ensure border checks are avoided and physical infrastructure is not installed after a no-deal Brexit.

But with less than 60 days until Britain’s next scheduled divorce, the EU and Dublin are no closer to releasing their exact border plans.

“The commission and Ireland continue to work together in the context of the unique situation on the island of Ireland,” a Commission spokeswoman said. 

EU diplomats fear that Mr Johnson is ready to renege on a British commitment to protect the Good Friday peace agreement and the all-Ireland economy.

An EU official said: “There is no timeline I can give you today, and no more specifics, the only thing I can say clearly, it’s very clear legally that all the controls and checks will have to be carried out.

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According to diplomat cables, he told EU embassies in London that avoiding customs checks on Ireland should be a joint endeavour.

The Commission, in its communication, has called on businesses and national governments to make their final preparations for no deal.

The notice warned: “With eight weeks to go until the United Kingdom’s withdrawal form the European Union on October 31, 2019, the Commission has today reiterated its call on all stakeholders in the EU27 to prepare for a no-deal scenario.

“In light of the continued uncertainty in the United Kingdom regarding the ratification of the withdrawal agreement – as agreed with the UK Government in November 2018 – and the overall domestic political situation, a no-deal scenario on November 1, 2019, remains a possible, although undesirable, outcome.”

As part of the bloc’s no deal planning, the Commission has opened up its disaster relief fund to provide support to countries hit hardest by Brexit.

“The Commission has today adopted a proposal to extend the scope of the European Solidarity Fund to cover serious financial burden inflicted on Member States directly imputable to a withdrawal without an agreement and that could not be avoided by preparing in advance,” its notice said.

“This involved support to state aid schemes for businesses, measures to preserve existing employment and ensure the functioning of border, customs and sanitary and phytosanitary controls.”

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