Irish border agreement has to be part of Brexit deal, Juncker warns

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, "in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming European Council", said a statement released by the European Commission.

"We had asked for and looked for significant progress in June".

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

"We call on the UK Government in its forthcoming white paper to commit to staying inside the single market and customs union recognising that this will require continued alignment with the EU regulatory environment".

They also call for "further clarity from the United Kingdom as regards its position on the future relationship".

He added: "We are so deeply grateful for the remarkable solidarity and support we have received from the European Union institutions and fellow member states, none more so than from President Juncker".

Jean Claude Juncker was speaking following meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings on Thursday.

Claiming there is "clearly a great deal of work" remaining to be done in Brexit negotiations, Mr Coveney said: "Our strong preference remains an overall EU-UK future relationship which would resolve all issues".

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Mr Junker will receive an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland and attend an official dinner hosted by Mr Varadkar in Dublin Castle later on Thursday.

The European Commission president argued that Dublin and Brussels must prepare for a no deal Brexit.

The council will also talk about the political situation in Northern Ireland and Mr Varadkar is expected to reiterate his regret that no Northern Ireland ministers will be at the British-Irish Council summit.

At the start of Mr Juncker's address, he joked that he wished he was drunk.

This week the European Union warned that more work was needed on how to deal with the 300-mile frontier post-Brexit. It was certainly reassuring to hear that the European Union is still, and will remain, firmly behind Ireland.

Last March, EU leaders gave the go ahead for talks on Britain's future relations with the bloc, including a potential trade deal, to begin. The U.K. wants the backstop to be time-limited but Varadkar said it could not have an "expiry date".

On Friday the Commission President will meet Irish President Michael D Higgins and visit the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Croke Park, and the GAA museum. "It remains our intention to achieve a close economic partnership that does not require the backstop to be in operation".

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