Michel Barnier and Davis Davis talk Brexit 'backstop'

Brussels warns against Brexit ‘backstop plan’ By European Interest

Although the EU Commission insists the update published today outlines "issues for further discussion with our United Kingdom counterparts", the wording clearly seems to back Michel Barnier's original proposal - which was rejected by Theresa May back in February - while rejecting Westminster's latest effort.

It said Westminster's idea for a temporary customs arrangement, where the entire United Kingdom remains in a customs territory, would lead to a hard Northern Ireland border.

After the meeting, the European Commission published its initial analysis of the British customs plan.

The document also accuses the backstop of deploying a "piecemeal application of EU VAT and excise rules" and claims that it carries "serious risks of fraud on a significant resource for member states".

The U.K. version is a "complex and unprecedented arrangement for a short duration", the Commission said in its presentation, shown to European Union national diplomats on Friday.

The EU documents also claim the United Kingdom plans would lead to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic because they do not cover regulatory checks. Officials now acknowledge that with so many unanswered questions that looks impossible.

Mr Barnier suggested a border in the middle of the Irish Sea to check goods travelling across it would have to be imposed.

The Prime Minister made a bid to break the deadlock on Thursday with a proposal for a temporary customs union arrangement between the whole of the United Kingdom and the EU.

The EU's own backstop proposals - already rejected by the United Kingdom government - would be a "timely and workable solution", the commission claims.

"That Team Barnier had rejected the terms of the Irish backstop agreement tortuously agreed by the Cabinet was known on Friday", he said.

"The G7 was also an opportunity for the PM to buttonhole the leaders of France, Italy, and of course Germany".

David Davis returned from Brussels empty-handed on Monday after Michel Barnier rejected major parts of Britain's "backstop" customs plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland. It damningly asked if the idea was really a backstop at all and repeated.

A legally binding backstop is required by October if there's to be a Brexit deal.



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