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Brexit: May meets EU executives in Strasbourg. “Backstop an insurance policy, there’ll be no impassable border in Northern Ireland”

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

(from our correspondents in Strasbourg) “Sometimes you may give a second chance, but there’ll not be a third one”. This is how, speaking to the press in Strasbourg at around midnight yesterday 11th March, Jean-Claude Juncker defined the compromise reached after over two hours of negotiations with Theresa May, who had arrived at the EU parliament at about 9.00 pm. A “joint instrument” has been added “as a completion to the withdrawal agreement” about the backstop for the Northern Irish border: both Juncker and May named the backstop an “insurance policy to make sure there will never be an impassable border in Northern Ireland”. Now, the new “joint instrument makes sure the EU cannot do anything to enforce the backstop indefinitely”, May then extensively explained; it is “a legal commitment, so that what will replace the backstop agreement” – which will be negotiated between 29th March and 31st December 2020 if Brexit goes through – will not need to be replicated”, giving “the stipulations made with Juncker and Tusk” last January “a legally binding form”. Then, there’s also a “joint statement” that completes the Withdrawal agreement about the negotiation process, laying down that “the parties must start working straightaway to replace the backstop with alternative measures” by December 2020. The United Kingdom will also make a “unilateral statement“ to make sure that, even if everything should fail by 2020, “nothing will prevent the United Kingdom enforcing measures that will automatically void the backstop”.

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