Aug. 15, 2017, 9:31 p.m.
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THE UK GOVERNMENT has outlined its wish to have no hard border between Ireland and the North after it leaves the EU.In a policy paper to be published later today, the UK lays out its position on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, identified as one of the main issues to be addressed in relation to Brexit.The UK government said it wanted to maintain a “seamless and frictionless” border between the two countries.Currently people and goods are able to move freely between the Republic and Northern Ireland.The possibility of a hard border being introduced following Brexit has stoked a lot of worry for people living in the areas of both countries that would be most affected.According to the UK government, it will be pushing to avoid any physical border infrastructure and border posts for any purpose following Brexit.CustomsThe UK yesterday laid out its plans to leave the customs union in order to negotiate a new deal with the EU.To replace this union, the government released a document outlining two possible options: a “highly streamlined customs arrangement” or a “new customs partnership” with the EU.Under a new customs partnership, that UK said there would be no customs border at all between the UK and Ireland.Under a highly streamlined customs arrangement, provisions to deal with the border could include:The UK said both these arrangements would need facilitations which reflect the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.However, Guy Verhofstadt, one of the EU’s Brexit negotiators, yesterday described aspects of the customs plan as “fantasy”, so it remains to be seen how Europe will react to these proposals.
Source: Guy Verhofstadt/TwitterGood Friday Agreement The UK also said that today’s paper will make clear its plans to protect the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ireland and the UK and the rights for citizens that go with it.It also committed to uphold the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, and called on the EU to prioritise these objectives also.“Both sides need to show flexibility and imagination when it comes to the border issue in Northern Ireland and that is exactly what our latest position paper will do,” a UK government source said.Irish response An Irish Government spokesperson welcomed the imminent publication of the UK’s Northern Ireland border policy document.“The Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade have called for greater clarity from the British Government on its approach to the negotiations, and publication of the new paper is timely and helpful in this regard,” the spokesperson said.“The emphasis on the priority areas identified by the Government… is welcome.“Protecting the Peace Process is crucial and it must not become a bargaining chip in the negotiations.