British government proposals to give the Northern Ireland assembly control over a new Irish backstop are likely to be rejected by the EU, the Irish government has warned.
Foreign minister Simon Coveney said that the nascent plan give Stormont a major say over the single market regulations – drawn up in London to placate the DUP – would likely not fly.
“I think there’s certainly a concern at an EU level that a devolved institution in Northern Ireland could have a veto about how a single market operates or a border on the single market operates. So it’s not as straightforward as some people are suggesting,” Mr Coveney said.
He added that the lack of worked out policy suggestions from the UK was a “a source of real frustration” on his side of the table.
EU officials say the British government has still not presented “concrete proposals” for a replacement to the Irish backstop in the withdrawal agreement.
British negotiators however earlier this month did draw up a concept of giving the Northern Ireland assembly control over how EU agricultural legislation would be applied in the north.
But EU officials stress that agriculture is just one area that would need to be covered by the backstop.
Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, on Friday warned that what the British had brought with them as nowhere near good enough.
“What’s been put forward so far falls very far short of what we would need,” he said.
But EU diplomats worry that, without a customs union between Northern Ireland and the republic, there would be too many loopholes in the single market. They are also concerned that EU businesses could be put at a disadvantage.
A UK government spokesman said: “The UK has presented some ideas on an all-island [agrifood] solution. Further discussions between teams will take place next week.”