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Ireland has told leading EU negotiators that its border with the United Kingdom must stay “invisible” after Brexit and said it was “firmly on the side” of the 27 remaining member states in the forthcoming divorce talks.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday (9 February) met with the chief Brexit negotiators of the European Commission and Parliament, Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt. Flanagan also met with leading MEPs.
After Brexit, the Republic of Ireland will become the EU’s only land border with the UK. Its border with Northern Ireland has allowed free movement between the two countries. Up to 1 million people cross the border every month and there is much cross-border trade.
“This border between north and south is invisible,” Flanagan told reporters after a whistle-stop tour of Brussels. “We all want to maintain the invisibility of the border.”
Ireland is pushing EU negotiators to recognise the unique nature of the border. Flanagan said there was recognition of the special status from EU chiefs.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has signalled the UK will leave the single market and likely the customs union. But she also specifically mentioned the Irish case in the white paper on Brexit, which Flanagan said meant she too recognised the island of Ireland was a special case.
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