United Kingdom guarantees soft border with Ireland

In a new government paper released on Wednesday, London said it wanted to avoid "a hard border for the movement of goods", and to maintain existing agreements which cover British and Irish citizens' rights to travel and residence in each other's countries.

Britain's membership of the EU customs union, which now allows for the tariff-free movement of goods, will end along with its membership of the single market when it leaves the bloc in March 2019.

In its proposals Britain has insisted that there must be "no return to the hard borders of the past", ensuring that people and goods can travel freely between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Among the two options put forward by the nation, the first involves no customs border at all, while the second involves highly-streamlined customs checks.

"In committing to keep the Common Travel Area, which has existed for almost a century, we're making sure British and Irish citizens will continue to be able to travel, live, work and study across both countries", Davis said.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the "much needed clarity" provided by the paper, in particular the commitment to upholding the Northern Ireland peace process and retaining freedom of movement across the border.

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"On Ireland, we would reiterate what [EU chief Brexit negotiator] Michel Barnier has said before".

"Both papers, yesterday and today, are a significant step forward and I think it would be welcomed", he told journalists in Dublin, while cautioning that delivering on their aims would be hard.

It goes beyond just the ability to move between our islands without passport controls, and also means guaranteeing continuing rights for United Kingdom and Irish nationals to work and access public services.

The plan was published by the UK Government in the first of a series of papers on key issues within the Brexit negotiations.

European Union officials said in July that it was hard to make progress in the Brexit talks because Britain had no position at all on many issues.

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The UK also suggested it and the European Union could discuss " a cross-border trade exemption" for smaller traders.

The Irish government said it will analyse the British proposals in detail.

'BREXIT must recognize that the people from Northern Ireland will continue to have right to both citizenships, ' the document said. Without a functioning Executive at Stormont, it is clear who the British Government are taking their lead from on Brexit.

"The suggestion of a cross-border trade exemption for smaller traders would address numerous UK's concerns about the potential adverse impact of enhanced customs processes on cross-border trade, and especially in the agri-food sector, but the European Union is likely to be concerned that it could create precedents elsewhere".

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(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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