EU ‘has concern with Stormont having veto on Irish border after Brexit’

By Aine McMahon PA

Deputy Irish Premier Simon Coveney says the European Union has concerns over a future Stormont executive being able to veto aspects of the Irish border backstop.

Speaking at the Fine Gael party think-in in Co Cork, Mr Coveney said any alternative arrangements to replace the backstop and the Withdrawal Agreement will be “rigrorously tested.”

The British government has previously proposed that if the Irish backstop came into operation, the devolved legislature in Belfast would have to agree to any subsequent changes to EU laws impacting on it.

“We will explore all ideas that are being brought forward by the British government but they will be rigorously tested because this has to stand up to to real scrutiny,” he said.

“It’s got to be negotiated in Brussels between the team for the UK and Michel Barnier’s Task Force. I think that’s where these ideas get tested.

“I think there is certainly a concern at an EU level that a devolved institution in Northern Ireland could have a veto over how the single market operates or a border on the single market operates, so it’s not as straightforward as some people are suggesting.”

Mr Coveney said there are no detailed proposals being but forward by the British Government, and that it is a source of frustration in Europe.

He added: “We don’t have detail of proposals that have come forward from the British government. I mean, there essentially aren’t detailed proposals in writing, which has been a source of real frustration, particularly for the Barnier task force.

“And I think you saw that yesterday when Michel Barnier said at the moment, there’s no basis for the reopening of a serious negotiation, because there’s no proposals coming forward.”