UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The European Union on Tuesday rejected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s request to scrap Ireland’s “safety net” border plan for implementing the Brexit deal, saying it had not offered practical alternatives.
Johnson sent a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk on Monday to confirm that Britain could not accept what he called a “non-democratic” safety net, the mechanism agreed to avoid border points between EU member Ireland and British-controlled Northern Ireland.
Since taking office last month, Johnson has insisted that his country will leave the bloc on October 31 and has stepped up preparations for a “no deal” departure scenario that is expected to cause major economic turmoil.
But the European Commission, which led the Brexit negotiations with London, rejected Johnson’s proposal in his letter to replace the “safety net” with “commitments” to find “alternative arrangements.”
“The letter does not provide a practical legal solution to effectively prevent the return of the border on the island of Ireland,” UNHCR spokeswoman Natasha Bertude told reporters.
The letter “does not specify any alternative arrangements that could be, and in fact it recognizes that there are no guarantees that such arrangements will be implemented by the end of the transition period.”
The controversy comes as Johnson prepares to travel to Berlin and Paris, where he hopes to convince German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to give him space in his quest for a new Brexit deal.
An hour-long telephone conversation with Irish Prime Minister Leo Faradkar on Monday failed to make any breakthrough.
Johnson’s attempts are set to continue at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, at the weekend, where the British prime minister will try to show off his good relationship with US President Donald Trump as an indication of Britain’s post-Brexit ambitions.
– Tusk attack –
The “safety net” envisaged in the November 2018 EU withdrawal agreement was seen as the last exit and notes a “unified customs department” comprising the EU and the Kingdom, with a greater link to Northern Ireland with a number of EEC rules.
The aim is to avoid a de facto return of the border between the British province and the Eurozone Republic and to maintain the 1998 peace agreement in Ireland and the unity of the European Common Market.
Tusk, in turn, reacted strongly to Johnson’s hardline tone in recent weeks.
“The safety net is a guarantee to avoid actual borders on the island of Ireland,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Those who oppose the safety net, who do not propose realistic alternatives, are in fact supporting the re-establishment of borders. Even if they do not admit it.”
But the idea of a “safety net” is strongly opposed by Brexit’s ardent supporters who want a clear break with the European Union and the Northern Ireland Unionist Party, an ally of the Conservative Party that rejects discriminatory treatment of the Northern Ireland boycott.
Opponents of the deal say it keeps Britain permanently linked to EU systems.
The European Parliament rejected the Brexit deal reached by former Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union three times.
The EU and Ireland say the British proposal for “alternative arrangements” is too vague and without solid legal guarantees.
Brussels has repeatedly said it would not renegotiate the 600-page withdrawal deal but could amend the “political declaration” accompanying the deal on future European-British relations.
So far, Britain has not requested a meeting, according to Commission spokeswoman Bertude, suggesting London is building its hopes on progress in bilateral meetings with Merkel on Wednesday and Macron on Thursday.
As each side holds its ground, fears of a Brexit are growing without agreement, and leaked government contingency plans point to the bad impact of this outcome.
A report in the Sunday Times warned of a shortage of food, fuel and medicine, port chaos and even possible civil unrest.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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