European Union leaders anxious over Irish border issue in Brexit talks: draft

Guy Verhofstadt

The support of European Union members for Ireland's Brexit position will not change, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday, advising against any temptation to isolate Ireland in a withdrawal deal.

Jean-Claude Juncker's visit comes ahead of next week's key European Council meeting.

Irish economy still growing substantially but Brexit is "a major threat", says Ireland's Central Bank High levels of household and public debt also cause for concern Ireland's economy is still showing strong growth but Brexit poses major risks, according to the country's Central Bank.

He argued the uncertainty as to whether people and goods will still be able to travel freely across the 300 mile Northern Ireland/Ireland border after Brexit was feeling the nationalist sentiment.

The European Commission President was handed a Cork shirt with the number 27 in acknowledgement of his role representing the EU27 members.

On Friday he will meet President Michael D Higgins and visit Croke Park where he will see a demonstration of gaelic football and hurling.

Later this morning Mr Juncker will address the Irish parliament, the Oireachtas.

"Mr Juncker's claim that "Ireland is not alone" is false security for the country which would be most severely impacted by a no deal Brexit", said DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds.

But there will be no withdrawal agreement without a fully operation backstop.




"If Mr Juncker was really focused on helping Ireland, he would be encouraging the European Union to focus on getting a post-Brexit trade deal in place".

"Sunday's meeting isn't a mini-summit but an informal working meeting", Juncker said in a press conference with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

Following the meetings, Juncker made it clear that a resolution to the border issue was crucial to the withdrawal treaty.

Mr Juncker will be accompanied on his engagement in Dublin this morning by Mr Barnier and European Union agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan.

"The backstop paper has been amended and now expresses, in much more detail, the time limited nature of our proposal - something the prime minister and David Davis have always been committed to".

Barnier will present the state of play of the negotiations to the European Council on June 28 and 29.

"Whatever the inevitable political noise as we unpick the complexities of our membership of the European Union, I will ensure that we maintain the depth of our ongoing engagement with the Scottish Government, including this week at the British-Irish Council in Guernsey".

However, Prime Minister May has described this as unacceptable, while United Kingdom government ministers want the backstop to be time-limited.

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