THE IRISH government has demanded the European Union ensure the UK is not “backsliding” on a Brexit agreement over the Northern Ireland border as David Davis meets with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier today.
Dublin has made clear the nation will not accept a transitional deal without renewed assurances from Britain that there can be a “backstop” arrangement, if all else fails, to avoid a disruptive “hard border” after Brexit.
The meeting comes before EU leaders are expected to offer London a deal on a transition period at a summit on Friday.
EU diplomats and officials say a deal on the transition, a key issue for British business, is close to an agreement after negotiations through the weekend.
Ahead of an EU27 of meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels, Ireland’s Simon Coveney said: “The EU27 have been consistent that there can be no backsliding on any part of December’s agreement.
“This highlights the importance of the UK engaging meaningfully on all aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the fallback Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.”
An Irish spokesman said Mr Coveney was looking forward to hearing the assessment of EU negotiator Mr Barnier on whether that is happening, adding: “This will be necessary to move the negotiations on at Friday’s European Council.”
The Irish foreign minister’s comments come as Mr Davis is in Brussels to meet with Mr Barnier today.
The Brexit Secretary stressed last week that he wants to shake hands on a transition agreement this month so talks can move onto the UK’s future relationship with the EU.