Juncker says would like Britain to rejoin European Union after Brexit

18 January, 2018, 14:24 | Author: Kim Reid
  • President Trump will meet Leo Varadkar on St Patrick’s Day and is expected to discuss tax and immigration

In his speech, Mr Varadkar said it is hard to imagine the Good Friday Agreement being made without Ireland's membership of the EU.

The agreement said that, if Britain can not strike the kind of free trade deal it wishes, Northern Ireland would remain aligned with the rules of the EU single market and customs union, both of which the British government is committed to leaving.

"For my part I hope the new relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union is as close and deep as possible, but consistent with the need to maintain a customs market", he said, calling London to avoid "backsliding" and calling for all sides to participate in the debate on a positive attitude.

There can be "no backsliding" on the UK's guarantee to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar told the European Parliament on Wednesday (17 January).

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He warned against any rowing back from the agreement reached at the end of past year between the United Kingdom and the remaining European Union countries.

The taoiseach said it was important that the deal reached in December is fully reflected in the withdrawal agreement that is now being formalised in a legal text. "And based on the achievements of the past, we have a renewed appetite to face the challenges of the future". "We cannot tolerate a situation where large companies can avoid paying any taxes anywhere".

Not only were countries like Hungary and Bulgaria charging companies lower rates than Ireland, he said, but France - whose President Emmanuel Macron has been a particular critic of tax avoidance by USA tech giants - offered so many loopholes for some corporations that its effective rate could also be lower. The European Union should, he said, seek global rules through the OECD. "Europe should not give advantages to our competitors by acting unilaterally", Varadkar said.

In 2016 the EU Commission ordered U.S. tech giant Apple to pay back Ireland €13 billion in back taxes.

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"Even if the British leave under Article 50, then Article 49 would allow them to join again and I would like that", Juncker said.

It comes after European Council president Donald Tusk said on Tuesday he was open to a "change of heart" from the UK.

In addition to appearing to suggest that Brexit was still avoidable, Juncker also suggested that Britain could rejoin the European Union later on.

"I still feel the exit of Britain is a catastrophe, yes, a defeat we all have to take responsibility for", he said, responding to a written question from a German lawmaker who had asked if Juncker felt responsible for Brexit.

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