Irish Peace process uncertainty caused by Brexit talks

Posted by Geoff Bishop.

Written by Sarah Collins.

Brexit talks are creating “uncertainty” over the Border and the peace process, the European Parliament’s Brexit pointman has said.

Guy Verhofstadt told MEPs he has “concerns” about the fact Irish issues are being handled separately to citizens’ rights and money, which are being worked through in detail by EU experts.

“That issue cannot be a separate issue that we put aside in the meanwhile,” Mr Verhofstadt told the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee yesterday. “For the last weeks, I think there is uncertainty back, I should say, in these communities,” he said of Northern Ireland.

Given the political impasse in Northern Ireland, EU negotiators decided last month not to go into detail on the Border or peace process, but wait for the UK to come forward with its position.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator, said Irish issues were being handled in a “political dialogue at the highest level” between the UK and EU deputy chief negotiators.

“On subjects of such importance, it is essential to make sure we and our partners are on the same political line before we seek technical solutions,” Mr Barnier told reporters yesterday. “A political approach has to come about now before we try and find technical or even technological solutions to the issues linked to the Border,” he said.

Irish and EU officials are understood to be discussing a number of different options, but Mr Verhofstadt said he hadn’t seen a solution “that is 100pc solving the problem” on the Border. He said the UK’s exit from the single market “automatically creates a hard Border, a new burden that is in contradiction with the Good Friday Agreement”.