The “compromise” proposed by Boris Johnson on Brexit , particularly on the sensitive issue of the Irish border, has not convinced his European counterparts who have said it contains “some problematic points” for the large single market, crossing one of Brussels’ red lines.
The offer presented by Boris Johnson at the the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Sunday provides that Northern Ireland retains EU regulations for all goods, not just agricultural goods, for a transitional period of four years, which can be renewed if it wishes.
On the other hand, the British province remains in the same customs area as the United Kingdom, but without restoring the “physical” border which would threaten the 1998 peace agreements. Customs controls would be carried out “in a decentralised way” with electronic declarations and “a very small number of controls carried out on the premises” of the companies concerned.
The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his concerns to the British Prime Minister during a telephone interview.
“The President has acknowledged positive progress, particularly with regard to the complete alignment of regulations for all goods and the control of goods coming from Great Britain entering Northern Ireland,” Juncker’s office said in a statement. But he also “noted that there are still some problematic issues that will require additional work in the coming days, especially with regard to backstop governance”.
The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier said “there is progress, but to be honest there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve the three goals of the safety net: the absence of borders, the protection of the Irish economy and the protection of the single market; that is, to protect consumers, citizens and businesses in the single market,” he said before a meeting with the leaders of the political groups in the European Parliament.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, was the first to express his concerns about the proposal, saying the London offer did not “completely” fulfill the objectives.
“We do not think it really what guarantees Ireland needs,” said former Belgian Liberal Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s negotiator on divorce with the EU.