EU says onus on UK to provide solutions to Irish border problem
Brussels is laying responsibility for sorting out arrangements for the Irish border after Brexit solely on the UK government, new papers reportedly reveal.
The latest batch in a series of documents setting out the European Union's negotiating position are expected to be released on Thursday but do "not put forward solutions" for resolving travel between the north and south of the island of Ireland after 2019.
Instead the papers say the onus to sort out the problem "remains on the UK", according to documents seen by the Financial Times.
"The present paper does not put forward solutions for the Irish border," the papers state.
"The onus to propose solutions which overcame the challenges created on the island of Ireland by the UK's withdrawal and its decision to leave the customs union and the internal market remains on the UK."
Brexit Secretary David Davis has insisted discussions with Brussels on border plans have been "good" but the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said "a lot more substantial work" needs to be done.
The EU paper calls for "unique solutions" and floats the possibility of "specific provisions" being included in the exit agreement to address the fact the peace process was underpinned by common EU law.
Among the draft documents are also demands for European delicacies like Parmesan cheese and Champagne to be given a protected status in British law after Brexit, according to the FT.
Intellectual property rights must not be "undermined by the withdrawal of the UK from the EU", the papers state.
To make safeguards for geographic food and drink specialities that have protections, such as parma ham, enforceable "specific domestic legislation" may be needed.
Mr Barnier is expected to be quizzed about the contents of the documents at a press conference in Brussels on Thursday afternoon.
The documents propose allowing people to continue to cross the Irish border to work, study and receive medical treatment, it was reported.
And they are understood to float the idea of specific commitments to be written into the departure deal to protect cross-border co-operation in areas like health, education, transport and fishing.
The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, has said he will ask the European Council to postpone its assessment of whether "sufficient progress" has been made to move on to trade talks from October to December.
Mr Tajani's comments came as former European Council president Herman van Rompuy warned that chances of sufficient progress being made by October were "in the neighbourhood of zero".
But First Secretary of State Damian Green told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think that's too pessimistic.
"Clearly these are complex negotiations, but there are several rounds to go. We've said we want to increase the pace of them.
"There have been some significant agreements made already, so negotiations obviously will be tough but let's see what happens between now and October."
Mr Tajani said that agreement had to be reached on the UK's financial settlement, citizens' rights and the Irish border before moving on to the second phase of negotiations.
"Without an agreement on this, we cannot talk about the future," he told the Politico website on Wednesday.
"So far we have noted that no concrete proposals have arrived, only very foggy proposals.
"I will ask the Council tomorrow (to extend the deadline) but it's not our fault, but due to delays.
"And the Brits are the ones who will be mostly affected by it. It is not a tragedy, but we cannot postpone further than December."