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Speaking today at the IIEA Brussels, Barnier said: “I have a difficult job, because there are still too many questions and not enough answers.”

On the time running out in the negotiations, he said: “Time is short. We need to have workable and realistic proposals. We await the UK White Paper, which is coming next week. My objective has always been to find an agreement with the UK, not against the UK.”

On the integrity of the Single Market, he said: “The Single Market is our main economic public good. We will not damage it. We will not reverse what we achieved with the UK. We must find solutions that respect the integrity of the Single Market. We are ready to adapt our proposal, should the UK’s redlines change. Our objective has always been to find a solution that works for us and the UK, not against the UK.”

On the so-called backstop regarding the island of Ireland, Barnier stated: “Let me be clear – we are not asking for any border between Northern Ireland and any other part of the UK. We must de-dramatize the backstop. We’ll need to clarify how and where these controls need to be done. These are only technical controls on goods, no more no less.”

The full audio from Michel Barnier’s speech and text will be available shortly. Pool footage of the event will be available via EBU.

Michel Barnier is Chief Negotiator, heading the Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU. Within this role, he is responsible for negotiating the with the United Kingdom on behalf of the European Commission. He previously served as Special Adviser to President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, dealing specifically with matters of security and defence. From 2010-2014 he was European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services. He previously served as French Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Foreign Affairs.


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The IIEA is Ireland’s leading independent think tank and policy research institute. It acts as a forum, bringing together stakeholders to discuss issues of national, European and international significance.

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