DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will need “significantly more clarity” from the British government on the future of the Northern Ireland border before it will allow Brexit talks to move onto the next phase, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Thursday.
The EU has named the Northern Ireland border as one of three issues on which “sufficient progress” must be made in order to allow progress to talks on a future trade agreement with Britain after it leaves the bloc in 2019.
“We won’t have all of the answers by the middle of December, but we are looking for significantly more clarity than we currently have from the British negotiating team,” Coveney told parliament.
“Hopefully we will make progress that will allow us to move onto Phase 2 in the middle of December,” he said. “If it is not possible to do that, so be it.”
Coveney said that very good progress had been made on the maintenance of the common travel area which allows Irish and British citizens travel and work freely in each other’s countries.
But on efforts to maintain an open and frictionless border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, he said Dublin would be looking for more than “constructive ambiguity.”
He said the “strong solidarity” between Ireland and fellow EU members had been reaffirmed in recent days.
European Council President Donald Tusk will fly to Dublin on Friday afternoon to discuss the talks.
Reporting by Conor Humphries, Editing by William Maclean