We note widely reported suggestions that Brussels intends to propose changes to its proposal on the so-called ‘backstop’ for maintaining a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after the UK’s exit from the EU.
It is unclear if these proposals represent a serious departure from the EU’s dogmatic stance to date or whether they are simply intended to dress up existing elements of its plan.
It is imperative that Brussels negotiators move to clarify their position as soon as possible.
The DUP remains firmly opposed to the core tenet of the original plan published by Michel Barnier which would see Northern Ireland remain tied to EU rules and cut adrift from the rest of the United Kingdom post-Brexit.
We will not countenance anything which affects the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the Union, creates barriers to and within the UK internal market or erects barriers in customs or regulation.
At every stage, we have made this clear to the Prime Minister and Michel Barnier. The job of finding a workable, practical and mutual solution remains incomplete.
Suggestions that the EU is now considering technology-based solutions are a positive if belated development. However, this will become null and void if based only on the EU goal of ensuring Northern Ireland remains in a common regulatory and customs areas inside the EU.
Equally we are unconvinced by political and economic arguments which suggest that a technological border in the Irish Sea is more deliverable than on the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
It is key that Mr Barnier moves to end speculation in relation to the EU position.
It is in the interests of both sides that negotiations take place in good faith around the table and not in morning tabloids. We will measure any proposal against our stated objectives to ensure the best possible deal for Northern Ireland.