Guy Verhofstadt: Britain must find post-Brexit solution to Northern Irish border problem

Posted On: 
20th September 2017

The European Parliament's​ Brexit negotiator has said it is up to the UK to find a “unique solution” to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland border
PA Images

Guy Verhofstadt dismissed suggestions put forward by the UK regarding the Northern Irish border, saying he is yet to hear a “workable solution”.

He also floated the possibility of Northern Ireland staying in the customs union and single market after Brexit.

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The top EU official's scathing assessment comes after Michel Barnier said he was “worried” about the British proposals for the Ireland-Northern Ireland border, branding them “unfair”.

Both sides in the negotiations have stressed the importance of upholding the Good Friday Agreement and avoiding a return to a hard border.

The UK has proposed exempting small businesses from any new customs requirements if moving goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and offering reduced bureaucracy for "trusted traders".

Ministers have also suggested that new technology could be used to track goods, thereby taking away the need for border posts to be brought back.

Today Mr Verhofstadt is in Northern Ireland to meet political leaders ahead of a visit to the border.

He said: "The resurrection of the border problem is the consequence of the decision of Britain to leave the union.

"So it is their responsibility to come forward with solutions.

He added: “There are possibilities, for example you could imagine one proposal on the table that Northern Ireland continued to be part of the customs union and even of the single market. The point is it is the UK government that has to come forward with such unique solutions.”

He has previously said the EU will not again accept a hard border again between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.