August 20, 2019 / 10:42 AM / a month ago

EU executive says Brexit backstop only way to avoid hard border in Ireland

FILE PHOTO: Irish police officers patrol along the open border between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union executive said the backstop option was the only means identified by both London and the bloc to avoid a return to extensive border checks on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent a letter to the bloc demanding that the EU drop the backstop from the divorce deal.

“The letter does not provide a legal operational solution to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland,” European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud told a news briefing. “Our position on the backstop is well known... (It) is the only means identified so far by both parties to honour this commitment.”

Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Gabriela Baczynska; editing by John Stonestreet

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