Juncker insists post-Brexit border "is not an Irish issue - it is a European issue"

The European Commission President says the EU needs 'further clarity' from the UK on post-Brexit plans

Juncker insists post-Brexit border "is not an Irish issue - it is a European issue"

Jean-Claude Juncker. Picture by: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP/Press Association Images

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has insisted the remaining EU member states 'stand firm and united' when it comes to Ireland and Brexit.

Mr Juncker was addressing the European Parliament earlier today on potential plans for future EU and UK relations.

He stressed the EU needed 'further clarity' from the UK in order to reach an understanding.

He observed: "As the clock counts down, with one year to go, it is now time to translate speeches into treaties; to turn commitments into agreements; broad suggestions and wishes on the future relationship to specific, workable solutions."

Last month, Theresa May rejected the draft Brexit agreement published by the European Commission, claiming it would "undermine the UK common market and threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea".

Mr Juncker today said the draft proposals should not come as a surprise or shock, suggesting it 'translates faithfully' the agreement reached between British and European officials late last year to avoid a hard border.

Mr Juncker argued: "The European Union, this House, the 27 Member States stand firm and united when it comes to Ireland. For us, this is not an Irish issue. It is a European issue.

"It is all for one and one for all – that is what it means to be part of this Union. We pool our resources and our sovereignty to strengthen one another and to give ourselves more sovereignty when dealing with the rest of the world. We see this with Brexit, we see this with trade, we see this across the board."

The suggestion that the Irish border is a European issue was heckled by one MEP, who shouted: "It is a British issue."

The European Parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt, meanwhile, called for the UK to move beyond 'slogans' and 'soundbites'.

Under the current schedule, the UK is set to leave the bloc on March 29th 2019.