Today’s UK paper on Brexit is a long overdue step that is insufficient and incomplete, according to Mairead McGuinness, MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament.
“The proposal for a temporary customs arrangement will need to be further studied but appears to go only part of the way to what has already been agreed. There is much work to do,” she said.
Michel Barnier has today said any backstop must be “all weather”, applicable until there is an agreement on the future relationship between the EU and UK that avoids a hard border.
“It is therefore concerning that the paper appears to want a time limit on the arrangement,” Ms McGuinness said.
The paper is also silent on regulatory standards, a key part of avoiding any border checks.
“On this basis one would expect that a second paper is in preparation dealing with the complex issues of regulatory alignment.
“My concern is that the UK has produced this customs proposal and changes to the withdrawal text just weeks before the June Council meeting.
“Given that it does not fully deal with all the issues that might impact on the Northern Ireland aspect, an agreement at the June Council would seem impossible at this stage.
“It is to be hoped that this is not a negotiating strategy by the UK to shift the Northern Ireland issue into the Autumn when we are up against the clock.
“Perhaps it reflects the ongoing and bitter divisions within the UK Government on the Brexit negotiations.
“The people I represent are concerned about this and fearful for the future without full agreement on the backstop to avoid a hard border,” she said.