EU piles on pressure for Irish border solution

The European Union is ratcheting up the pressure on the UK to come up with a new solution to the Irish border problem or risk failure in the Brexit negotiations.

Ireland and passport
As Prime Minister Theresa May attempted to unite her warring Cabinet members behind the idea of a post-Brexit ‘customs partnership’ with the bloc, Brussels chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the Irish border problem risked talks on all issues breaking down at next month’s crucial summit of EU leaders.

Irish border discussions

Mr Barnier said there had been “little progress” in talks about the conditions for the UK to leave the union. “The two key points which remain, where there is risk of failure, are the governance of the agreement and the Ireland-Northern Ireland issue,” he said, adding that the “the clock is ticking” because the UK and EU need to agree on a deal before November to enable UK and EU parliaments to ratify it.Ekaterina Zaharieva, the deputy prime minister of Bulgaria, which currently holds the European Council presidency, said, “What the UK proposed doesn’t mean there is no hard border. Their proposals mean hard borders, unfortunately.“In June, we need to see substantive progress on Ireland, on governance and all remaining separation issues.”After talks in London with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said, “The time has come to decide and I think it is essential that at the meeting in June there should be important progress. Now we have to go to definitive decisions, and the responsibility for those is with the British side.”German Foreign Minister Michael Roth added, “We are concerned that there is no clear attitude and no clear position from the British side. Time is passing. We must now make substantial progress.”

Sturgeon calls for further devolution

Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for the UK’s immigration policy to be devolved among individual nations and regions. 
Addressing the Scotland Means Business conference in London, she called for “one size fits all” approach to immigration to be scrapped and said Scotland risked a “disastrous” fall in its working population after Brexit.“Increasingly we see across business, across university across society much better support for Scotland having much more autonomy and flexibility around immigration,” she said.“We hear the same arguments here in London and increasingly in other parts of the UK as well. Is it right any longer to have a ‘one size fits all’ immigration policy for the whole UK when the demographic and labour needs of different parts of the UK vary quite considerably?”For related news and features, visit our Brexit section. Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory 

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