Coveney says Ireland happy with EU legal text
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney insisted in Brussels this week that commitments to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit accurately reflected in the legal document being published this week.
Mr Coveney, who is also Tánaiste, made his remarks after talks with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels. He said he was very happy with the text, which was due to be published on Wednesday.
“I think people will judge for themselves. I think they will see it’s an accurate reflection of what was politically agreed in December,” Mr Coveney said.
In December, during phase one of the Brexit negotiations the Irish Government said it had secured cast iron guarantees there would be no return to a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland when the UK leaves Europe.
Very good meeting with @MichelBarnier today, focusing on #Brexit legal text of draft Withdrawal Agreement to be published on Wednesday – we are of the one mind, translating the political commitments of December into legal text – no more, no less. pic.twitter.com/k8hK1MvJOk
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) February 26, 2018
Nevertheless Prime Minister Theresa May insists the UK will not be joining a customs union and that it wants to be free to sign trade deals with other parts of the world. She was due to set out her latest vision of Brexit this Friday, after a special meeting of her Cabinet on Thursday.
Mr Coveney said the Irish government and Mr Barnier are of “one mind” on the text of the legal document due to be published on Wednesday.
“It will be faithful and true to the political agreement that was made in December and translating that effectively into a legal text that can then be a draft withdrawal agreement from the EU’s perspective,” said the Tanaiste said. Mr Coveney said additions can be made to the legal text over time.
“The Irish government is very happy with the content that you will see published on Wednesday,” he said adding there will be a lot of detail on Ireland in the document, including on a possible default position should no deal be reached on issues around trade, travel and customs between the EU and UK before 2019.
“Our preference will be to try and solve a lot of the Irish border issues and Irish issues through an option A, which hopefully we hear an awful lot more about from the British Prime Minister on Friday,” he said.