Brexit Transition Is No Go Without Irish Border Answer, EU Says

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(Bloomberg) -- European Union President Donald Tusk stepped up the pressure on the U.K. to come up with a solution to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit by warning that all deals, including the transition period agreement, would otherwise be canceled.

“The U.K.’s decision on Brexit has caused the problem,” Tusk told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday. “The U.K. will have to help solve it.”

The EU’s idea for keeping the Irish border invisible is to keep Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., in the bloc’s customs union and parts of the single market. But that would create a border between Northern Ireland and the British mainland, which U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said is unacceptable. The problem is sensitive because of decades of bloodshed over who governs Northern Ireland.

“Without a solution there will be no withdrawal agreement and no transition,” Tusk said.

U.K. and EU officials have been discussing the Irish question for the past three weeks but haven’t made a breakthrough. They are scheduled to hold another meeting on the issue on Wednesday.

Leaders will assess the state of the negotiations at their June summit and hold their first talks about the post-Brexit U.K.-EU relationship, Tusk said. “We want to use the positive momentum in these negotiations to finally settle outstanding issues,” he said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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