Juncker: ‘More answers’ needed from United Kingdom on Ireland

Juncker: ‘More answers’ needed from United Kingdom on Ireland

Juncker: ‘More answers’ needed from United Kingdom on Ireland

Britain must soon take "major steps" towards avoiding a physical border with Ireland after Brexit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned on a visit to Dublin on Thursday. "We need more answers and fewer new questions".

"The withdrawal agreement must include a legally binding backstop so that there can not be a hard border on the island of Ireland in the future", Varadkar said., adding "a backstop cannot have an expiry date".

'I am strongly against any temptation to isolate Ireland and not to conclude the deal on Ireland. "It remains our intention to achieve a close economic partnership that does not require the backstop to be in operation".

Mr Juncker was speaking in Dublin on Thursday.

The pair held a short meeting along with their delegations, including Clara Martinez-Alberola, head of Mr Juncker's cabinet, Gerard Kiely, head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, legal adviser Michael Shotter and financial adviser Paulina Dejmek-Hack.

The future of the border between European Union member Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit is one of the most hotly contested issues in the negotiations, with many on both sides of the border wanting to keep the current free-flowing frontier open.

Mr Juncker will meet Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, receive an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland and attend an official dinner hosted by the Taoiseach in Dublin Castle.

He will also address a joint sitting of both houses of the Irish parliament, the Oireachtas.

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He put out a statement Monday saying, "as a father of two daughters, I too do not want to see children separated from their parents".

The Commission President did not try his luck at either Gaelic football or hurling, preferring to leave it to athletes who demonstrated the sport.

The visit comes as European Union member nations are being warned to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, also attended, along with Tanaiste Simon Coveney and European Union agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan.

After talks with Mr Juncker in Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said there was an urgent need to "intensify" negotiations to find an agreement on the shape of the border backstop.

The EU hopes a final version of the withdrawal agreement, together with a political declaration on the future relationship between London and the EU, can be approved by October so that it can be ratified by the Brexit deadline of the end of March 2019.

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

This will see the UK retain parts of the EU's customs union in the event of a wider UK-EU agreement finding no solution to the issue; but Brexiteers had become concerned as to whether the proposal would truly be "time-limited", as promised.

Ahead of Mr Juncker's arrival in Dublin, the Taoiseach said: "This is an important opportunity to assess the state of play in the Brexit negotiations".

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