DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland will not take checks on its exports at EU ports following any no-deal deal with Brexit as a result of its plans to keep an open border with Northern Ireland, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Tuesday.
FILE PHOTO: Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier takes part in a General Affairs Council on Article 50 in Brussels, Belgium March 19, 2019 REUTERS / Yves Herman / File Photo
Ireland's 500 km (350 miles) border with British-governed Northern Ireland will be the UK's only land border after Brexit. The question of how to maintain a seamless cross-border trade has been a major hurdle in efforts to ensure that the UK quits the bloc in an orderly fashion.
Brexit as Dublin has also pledged to maintain the integrity of the EU's single market, where goods move freely around the bloc without the need for checks. The bulk of Irish exports to the continental EU are shipped through the UK.
"We have to find a way of ensuring that we protect the integrity of the single market and that we avoid physical infrastructure on the (Irish) border", Coveney told the parliament ahead of meetings between Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and the leaders of France and Germany this week.
"Ireland is not going to allow a situation where the UK leaving the EU without a deal drags Ireland out of the single market with it. What do I mean by that is the EU port on all Irish products, which is not a runner and would cause significant damage to our economy, so we will not allow it. "
" COMPLEX CHALLENGE "
in February, that Dublin would soon have to come up with a plan to ensure the integrity of the single market or make checks on its own goods coming into the rest of the bloc, if they are also allowed to move freely to and from a country that is no longer a member.
"This is something that we do not have an agreed plan but we are working this week and presumably next week on, if we need it, in the context of a no-deal Brexit," Coveney said, referring to meetings with the EU Commission he said had begun last week.
"That's a complex challenge and we always said it would be. And we always said that it would involve difficult conversations with the European Commission and they are happening now. "
The EU warned on Tuesday that Britain could be heading for a potentially disorderly no-deal exit in just 10 days as Prime Minister Theresa May met with ministers to thrash out ways to break the deadlock. The UK parliament has three times rejected her divorce deal with the EU.
Ireland has for months refused to even contingency contingency plans along its border with Northern Ireland in a no-deal Brexit, saying there would be "very difficult conversations" over how it would be managed if Britain leaves without a deal.
Britain and Ireland fear the installation of physical customs infrastructure on the border could reignite largely dormant sectarian tensions and prove a tempting target for militants seeking a united Ireland.
Reporting by Graham Fahy and Padraic Halpin; Editing by Gareth Jones