EU's Barnier says time too short for alternatives to Irish backstop

European Union Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier speaks during a plenary session of the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

PARIS (Reuters) - Time is too short to find an alternative arrangement to the Irish backstop and Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union will not be re-opened for negotiation, the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Wednesday.

“We ourselves talked of so-called alternative arrangements which could prevent the return of a hard border. Only, no one, on either side, was able to say what arrangement would be needed to ensure controls on goods, animals and merchandise, without having a border,” Barnier told France’s RTL radio.

“We have neither the time, nor the technologies.”

Barnier expressed hope that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s meeting with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn might yield new proposals. He said the EU was ready to re-work a political declaration outlining ambitions for a future trade deal with Britain.

“We’re open to being more ambitious and perhaps put into perspective that which is causing a problem in the withdrawal agreement.”

Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Matthias Blamont