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“EU paper on the Irish border manages to state much while saying nothing – except that it expects Britain to figure it all out” Dr Ray Bassett (Sunday Business Post)

The EU has finally produced a paper on the Irish border issue. To describe it as a paper, however, risks violating the Trades Description Act. The long-awaited document is actually a huge cop out. It point-blank refuses to clarify the EU position and states that the onus remains on the United Kingdom to propose imaginative and unique solutions. In Australian terms, the EU, and by extension the Irish Government, have gone walkabout. Michel Barnier added insult to injury by claiming that it had been drafted in close cooperation with the Irish Government. It is hard to envisage what they have been working on since it is essentially empty of any real substance, just a short descriptive document.

While having nothing new to offer, it again re-iterates the conditions which makes it impossible “to square the circle”. It states that any solution “must respect the proper functioning of the Internal Market and the Customs Union, as well as the integrity and effectiveness of the Union’s Legal Order”. In the immortal words of the great Henry Ford, “You can have any colour car you like, as long as it’s black”. Any solution can be proposed, as long as it does not allow Ireland and the United Kingdom any local derogation from EU conformity.


(Dr Ray Bassett is a retired Irish diplomat and former Irish ambassador to Canada)


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