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Montevideo, December 12th 2018 - 16:47 UTC

Good Friday agreement must not be damaged by Brexit, says EU parliament coordinator

Wednesday, October 4th 2017 - 08:09 UTC
Full article 10 comments
European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt admitted “shock” on his recent visit to Belfast when he saw the city's peace walls. European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt admitted “shock” on his recent visit to Belfast when he saw the city's peace walls.
“Verhofstadt is essentially calling for an international border to be placed between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain,” Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said “Verhofstadt is essentially calling for an international border to be placed between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain,” Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said

European Parliament's Brexit coordinator has said he got a “shock” on his recent visit to Belfast when he saw the city's peace walls. Guy Verhofstadt described Northern Ireland as having a “frozen conflict”, and said the Good Friday Agreement must not be damaged by Brexit.

 He suggested that the agreement could be attached to the Brexit withdrawal deal as a way of protecting it. Mr Verhofstadt made the comments in a debate at the European Parliament, which was voting on a resolution, assesses the state of play in the Article 50 negotiations between the UK and the EU.

MEPs backed a motion urging the EU not to open the next phase of the discussions until a “major breakthrough” has been made. The resolution referred to Prime Minister Theresa May's recent statement about wanting no infrastructure on the Irish border after Brexit.

It stated that position “presumes” the UK will have to stay in the internal market and customs union, or that Northern Ireland will stay in some form of internal market and customs union.

That part of the text has been welcomed by Sinn Fein but criticized by unionists. Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said it showed that Mr Verhofstadt was “taking sides” in Northern Ireland.

“Mr Verhofstadt is essentially calling for an international border to be placed between Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain,” he said.

Mr Nicholson added that it would be a “sad day” if the parliament supported that text as it would be “turning its back on decades of good relationships with all communities in Northern Ireland”.

That was echoed by the Democratic Unionist Party's Diane Dodds, who said “there can be no question of a deal that cuts us adrift from our most important market and erects barriers in the UK single market”.

Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson said the resolution was “an important step forward in recognizing that the requirements of the north of Ireland are different from those in Britain”. She also welcomed Mr Verhofstadt's comments on exploring how the Good Friday Agreement could be given legal protection as part of the withdrawal deal.

Mr Verhofstadt was in Belfast last month, and said during that visit it was up to the UK to find a way to avoid the imposition of new controls at the Irish border after Brexit.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • Pete Bog

    The UK isn't planning to wreck the Good Friday agreement ,it is the EU trying to put divisions between Ireland and the UK. And the EU is doing its utmost to ensure than agricultural imports from South America will wreck the Irish economy.

    Who needs enemies when you have friends like the EU?

    Ask the people of Catalonia.

    Ask Greece.

    Oct 04th, 2017 - 09:45 am +1
  • DemonTree

    The UK isn't planning to wreck the Good Friday agreement, but we are the ones who want to change the status quo. If (when) the UK leaves the customs union with the EU, what is to stop rampant smuggling over the totally open Irish border?

    That's what the UK government can't answer, and what the EU want them to decide. Either the UK stays in the customs union (renders Brexit pointless), or GB leaves but NI stays, with customs checks between GB and NI (unacceptable to Unionists), or they put in border crossings and have customs checks on the Irish border (already ruled out).

    Can you think of another option?

    Oct 04th, 2017 - 01:22 pm +1
  • Islander1

    Dear Guy- you are a classic EU irrelevant ignorant old fart. Do leave Irish Affairs to the Irish - those on both sides of the border. The Good Friday Agreement was bugger all and is bugger all to do with the EU.
    It is for them (with UK) to decide how to work and maintain an open border - if as a result the inevitable small amount of goods from mainland UK that go into N Ireland, end up into Eire - and some goods from Eire or EU end up across from N.Ireland into mainland UK - amounts will be small - who cares?
    If that is the price of maintaining peace and stability across Ireland - well worth it.
    Bugger all to do with a little idiot - so bugger off little chap.

    Oct 04th, 2017 - 01:29 pm +1
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