EU Rejects Northern Ireland Proposals, Italy No Closer to Government

The EU rejects all of Britain’s proposals for avoiding a border in Ulster. Italy is no closer to forming a government.

British and European flags outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, January 29, 2016
British and European flags outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, January 29, 2016 (European Commission)

The EU has rejected British proposals for avoiding a hard border in Ulster, with a source telling The Telegraph, “It was a detailed and forensic rebuttal… It was made clear that none of the UK’s customs options will work. None of them.”

Keep in mind that The Telegraph is a right-wing, pro-Brexit newspaper, so its sources may be attempting to put pressure on EU negotiators.

According to the report, the EU rejected:

  • A “customs partnership”, under which British would collect EU tariffs on goods destined for EU markets, as needlessly complex; and
  • A “highly streamlined customs arrangement” as effectively “turning a blind eye” to goods coming from non-EU countries.

The United Kingdom has committed to keeping Northern Ireland in full regulatory alignment with the EU in order to avoid a border with Ireland. The easiest way to accomplish that would be to keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs unions, however, that is unacceptable to hardline unionists in Theresa May’s government.

Deadlines for Italian government

The latest round of talks has failed to produce a breakthrough in Italy.

James Politi points out there are two deadlines for forming a new government:

  1. The EU summit in June, when eurozone governance and migration reform will be on the agenda.
  2. Mid-October, when Italy needs to present its annual budget to parliament and the European Commission.

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