More than 100 points of cross-border co-operation to be discussed

More than 100 points of North-South co-operation need to be hammered out as part of the finer detail of the UK’s Brexit agreement, Article 50 negotiators told members of the media on Thursday.

They include healthcare environment, transport and social security.

There were a few positive signals coming from Brussels as Brexit secretary David Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier summarised their progress this week.

Political deadlock continues between the UK and the European Union, as the fifth round of the UK’s Brexit negotiations finishes.

However, it seemed that maintaining the rights of EU workers and progress in Northern Ireland were high on the agenda.

The news will be welcomed by many agri-food businesses on the island relying on both cross-border trade and EU workers.

A fact-sheet released by the European Comssion stated that 110 million border-crossings are made each year. The figure includes 14,800 daily commuters.

‘Disturbing deadlock’

Barnier said there had been a “disturbing deadlock” over the financial settlement – however, he added that there had been progress in other areas.

We have continued our intensive work on mapping out areas of co-operation that operate on a North-South basis on the island of Ireland.

“There is more work to do in order to build a full picture of the challenges to North-South co-operation resulting from the UK and therefore Northern Ireland leaving the EU legal framework, this is necessary in order to identify the solutions,” Barnier said.

He added that importance had been placed on protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

“There is no question of making concessions on the peace process in Ireland,” he said.

“There is a clear sequence to these talks and there has been so far no solution found on the step one; the divorce settlement.”

EU workers

The UK was able to clarify that EU workers’ rights would be protected. David Davis said he recognised there had been “some anxiety” surrounding EU citizens’ rights to settled status in the UK.

“But I can confirm that we wish to reassure those EU citizens living in the UK that their rights and status will be enshrined in UK law by the withdrawal agreement,” he said.

He admitted there would be a registration process but added that this would be “simple” and “low-cost”.

“I make no secret of the fact that to provide certainty we must talk about the future,” he added. Davis stated that “significant process” had been made since June.

On March 29, the UK notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union, in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.


However, despite there being some common ground, Barnier concluded: “As things stand at present, I am not able to recommend to the European Council next week to open discussions on the future relationship.

“I will say before you again that trust is needed between us if this future relationship is to be solid, ambitious and long-lasting. This trust will come with clarity and the respect of all commitments made together.”