EU's Juncker says backing of Irish Brexit position will not change

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Ireland is not alone in Brexit negotiations and will remain backed by all member states, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

Mr Juncker started his visit with a meeting with Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney at Government Buildings in Dublin.

I expect that they will express their strong support for Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

The EU says Britain's decision to leave the single market and the customs union means border checks will be necessary unless Northern Ireland retains the same customs and regulations as the EU.

But he added: "The reality is that there is no arrangement outside the European Union that is as good as membership".

Coming a week ahead of a crunch European Council meeting of leaders in Brussels, the visit is a clear demonstration of the EU's solidarity with Ireland's position.

Mr Juncker will conclude his two-day visit to Dublin on Friday when he meets President Michael D Higgins at his official residence and then tours the Croke Park Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) stadium.

"Today's address not only afforded us the opportunity to hear directly from President Juncker, it also allowed for an honest and frank exchange of views across the parliament".

But there will be no withdrawal agreement without a fully operation backstop.

Continuing, McGuinness said: "I look forward to meeting Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker in Dublin tomorrow".

"It's a point that has also been reinforced by Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief negotiator for Article 50 negotiations", said McGuinness.

A time-limited "backstop" option agreed in principle but not in detail between Britain and the European Union has been interpreted by Europe as meaning Northern Ireland would effectively stay within the bloc's regulatory rules on issues like customs to preserve the now invisible and frictionless border arrangements.

He said: "Working together is exactly what people all across the United Kingdom want to see their respective governments doing".

Advances have been made in a number of areas, such as customs, Value-Added Tax and nuclear waste regulation, European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said, but "a lot more work" needs to be done to meet the October deadline.

"The Withdrawal Agreement without a backstop is of no use to us whatsoever".

When the Sinn Féin leadership team met with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Wednesday they raised the issue of the need for a City Deal for Derry with her.

"I will present the state of play of the negotiations to the European Council and the European Parliament".

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