Ireland `Hopeful' of New Thinking From U.K. on Border Impasse

(Bloomberg) -- Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said he’s hopeful Britain will bring forward ideas on how to avoid a hard border after Brexit, as the clock ticks towards the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.

Speaking in Dublin on Sunday alongside French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, he said again Britain’s customs partnership plan could be the basis of negotiation between the two sides. He dismissed the option to rely on technology.

“Hopefully we will see some new thinking, some new initiative from British government to help us get there” in terms of sufficient progress next month, Coveney said. “If that’s a customs partnership great, if it’s something else we want to hear what that is.”

Le Drian warned that June was an “ultimate deadline” for progress on the Irish issue. At present, the only realistic plan on the table for keeping the border clear of checks after Brexit is the EU’s “backstop” option, which would effectively keep Northern Ireland in the bloc’s customs union and parts of the single market if needed. That amounts to erecting a border between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain, which the U.K. considers unacceptable.

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