LUXEMBOURG (AP) – The French minister for Europe says EU countries are ready to discuss new proposals from Britain for a new Brexit deal if they protect Northern Ireland’s peace deal and the bloc’s common market.
Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels, Amelie de Montchalin said it is essential that any amendment to the current proposed divorce deal should uphold the Good Friday Agreement, the treaty that ended decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.
Montchalin said “if some people have proposals to make – as the United Kingdom has hinted – we are ready to listen to them.”
The main sticking point over a deal is the so-called backstop, a mechanism which would require Britain to retain some EU rules in order to avoid a hard border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.
Montchalin said “the backstop is an insurance policy. If we can’t find anything better, it’s a way to organize ourselves in order to protect peace in Ireland and the common market.”