Monsieur Barnier is watching out for us
The government clearly has a strong ally in its efforts to insert the special case of Northern Ireland into the EU 27’s negotiating position – chief negotiator Michel Barnier. In a speech to the EU’s Committee of the Regions in Brussels this week, he said one element of uncertainty created by the UK decision to leave concerns the new borders of the Union.
“I think particularly of Ireland. I have been Commissioner in charge of the PEACE programme. I understand the Union’s role in strengthening dialogue in Northern Ireland and supporting the Good Friday Agreement, of which the United Kingdom is one of the guarantors.
“That is why we will be – and I will be – particularly attentive, in these negotiations, to the consequences of the UK’s decision to leave the Customs Union, and to anything that may, in one way or another, weaken dialogue and peace.”
For the first time he outlined the nightmare consequences of a British ‘no deal’ exit:
- “More than four million citizens – UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK – confronted with extreme uncertainty concerning their rights and their future;
- Supply problems in the United Kingdom, disrupting value chains;
- The reintroduction of burdensome customs checks, inevitably slowing down trade and lengthening lorry queues in Dover;
- Serious disruption in air traffic to and from the United Kingdom;
- Suspension of the distribution of nuclear material to the United Kingdom, as it finds itself outside EURATOM overnight. I can multiply the examples.
“The United Kingdom would be seriously affected by such a situation: two thirds of its trade is currently enabled – and protected – by the Single Market and the free-trade agreements of the European Union with more than 60 partner countries.”