EU leaders have expressed anger and bafflement at the U.K’s announcement that it will breach an international treaty with a bill that would diminish the EU’s oversight of trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.
“We have never in recent history — or, maybe in ancient history dealing with other countries — seen such a renegement on an agreement,” said Ireland’s Europe minister, Thomas Byrne.
Leaders of the bloc vowed to stand together as time runs short to find a smooth economic transition before Britain leaves the EU’s economic structures on Dec. 31.
A no-deal Brexit on Jan. 1 would hit some EU nations, including Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands especially hard. But none were ready to make concessions to U.K. demands, which the EU views as seeking free access to the EU market while refusing to guarantee fair competition.
“We will never accept any kind of decision that might weaken or jeopardize the European single market, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
“We have made very clear that all European countries remain united and strong,” he added,
At a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Berlin, all other comments made backed Le Maire’s stance.
Ireland, which has the EU’s only land border with the U.K., stands to lose the most in a breakdown of trade talks. Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe welcomed “solidarity and support” from his colleagues in other EU countries.