With creativity, we can find Northern Ireland solution, Merkel says

February 4, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – With creativity and goodwill, Britain and the European Union can still perhaps resolve the issue of Irish border arrangements after Brexit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday.

Speaking at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Merkel said Germany did not want to see Britain’s divorce deal with the EU – the so-called Withdrawal Agreement – renegotiated.

“But, we have an agreement for the future relationship and in this future relationship (agreement), one can of course settle questions that are still being discussed such as the question we have with the backstop,” Merkel said.

“There are definitely options for preserving the integrity of the single market even when Northern Ireland isn’t part of it because it is part of Britain while at the same time meeting the desire to have, if possible, no border controls,” she said.

“To solve this point you have to be creative and listen to each other, and such discussions can and must be conducted,” she added. “We can still use the time to perhaps reach an agreement if everyone shows good will.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday she would seek a “pragmatic solution” to a parliamentary impasse over the terms on which Britain leaves the European Union when she tries to reopen talks with Brussels.

Merkel said: “We want to do everything to avoid a no-deal … as that would increase uncertainties.”

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Paul Carrel; Editing by Michelle Martin)