February 1, 2019 / 8:57 AM / 7 months ago

Backstop is only solution to Irish border issue: German justice minister

FILE PHOTO: German Justice Minister Katarina Barley attends a fraction meeting in Berlin, Germany October 16, 2018. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The European Union does not see any solution to resolving the issue of Irish border arrangements after Brexit other than having a backstop, German justice minister Katarina Barley said on Friday.

British lawmakers on Tuesday instructed Prime Minister Theresa May to reopen her Brexit treaty with the EU to replace the backstop - an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border in Ireland - but promptly received a rejection from Brussels.

“We definitely will not accept a border in the normal sense between Ireland and Northern Ireland, that is something that we’ve been very clear about from the very beginning,” Barley told Irish broadcaster RTE.

“Britain has not offered any proposition whatsoever and I think that we (the EU 27) have to stay really, really strong on the backstop,” she said.

British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday the UK government would take a few days to formulate new proposals for the Irish border. He also hinted an extension to the Brexit process, beyond exit day on March 29, might be required.

“I think that is important that we (the EU 27) all stay together and don’t let time pressure divide us,” added Barley.

Writing by James Davey in London; editing by Michael Holden

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