October 14, 2018 / 6:52 PM / a month ago

Irish border issue holds up Brexit deal - EU's Barnier

European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier takes part in the EU Commission's weekly college meeting in Brussels, Belgium, October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The thorny problem of how to ensure Brexit does not mean frontier checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland is among issues holding up a deal on Britain’s withdrawal, EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Sunday.

Tweeting after he met British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab following a weekend of talks between officials, Barnier said: “Despite intense efforts, some key issues are still open, including the backstop for IE/NI to avoid a hard border.”

The EU insists that Britain give assurances that, in the event future negotiations fail to ensure a UK-EU trade deal which can avoid a hard border, the British province of Northern Ireland should remain inside the EU’s economic rules. British Prime Minister Theresa May and her allies in Belfast reject that.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; editing by David Stamp

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