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EU Brexit Commissioner 'Worries About UK Stance on Irish Border'

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The European commissioner on Brexit criticized the UK's position on Northern Ireland. The high-ranking European official worries about the final EU-UK customs relations after Brexit.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Thursday European Commission chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that he was concerned over the UK's stance on the Ireland border.

"The UK wants the EU to suspend the application of its laws, its customs union and its single market at what will be a new external border for the EU, and the UK wants to use Ireland as a kind of test case for the future EU-UK customs relations. This will not happen," Michel Barnier stated at the news conference in Brussels.

The EU commissioner also added that what he had seen in a British paper on Ireland and Northern Ireland worried him. A solution had to be “unique” and would require flexibility from both sides, he said.

A worker arrives at his office in the Canary Wharf business district in London (File) - Sputnik International
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In a document published earlier this week, the European Union authorities stressed that the “onus to propose solutions” on Ireland fall on Britain. Alongside with the paper on the Irish border, the EU also published documents to detail its negotiating position on customs, intellectual property, data protection and public procurement.

In August this year, the British government published a comprehensive policy paper, which, among other issues, called for the return of "a hard border" for the movements of goods to be avoided, meaning that there should be no physical infrastructure along the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Dublin has welcomed the UK government's proposals.

The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is one of the most acute issues on the agenda of the Brexit talks, as London's pullout from the 28-nation bloc might create difficulties for the free movement of goods and workers across the Irish border as well as for the migrant situation.

Last week the UK Secretary of State for Brexit David Davis said that Britain will keep improving standards and quality after it leaves the European Union. "So after we leave the EU, we will not engage in a race to the bottom. That would mean lower global standards for our consumers and poorer prospects for our workers. An independent Britain after Brexit has the opportunity to lead a "race to the top" on quality and standards across the globe," Davis said.

Earlier this summer the UK government asked the country’s biggest companies to sign a letter supporting Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit strategy.

Moreover local media reports cited a leaked letter for UK companies on the FTSE 100 list of firms with the highest capitalization, as well as other enterprises. The letter praises the government’s commitment to securing "post-Brexit transition period" which would allow the businesses to adapt to the new market conditions. Also the letter, proposed by the UK government, expressed confidence in the future of "a global Britain" after Brexit.

The United Kingdom held the Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016. The negotiations officially started on June 19, when UK Brexit Secretary David Davis arrived in Brussels to negotiate the terms with Barnier. The talks are expected to conclude by the end of March 2019.

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