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Heiko Maas in Ireland
Image: Getty Images/AFP/P. Faith
Politics

Germany pledges full EU support for Ireland over Brexit

January 8, 2019

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has reiterated that the EU finds a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland "unacceptable." He warned of "serious damage" in the event of a no-deal scenario.

https://p.dw.com/p/3BC09

Speaking alongside his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the EU would not accept a hard border between Ireland, an EU member state, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

Maas pledged the EU's full support for the Republic of Ireland in the face of increasing uncertainty ahead of a fast-approaching deadline for Britain's exit from the European Union.

The border issue is one of the most contentious in the Brexit negotiations.

Delaying the inevitable?

Maas urged British lawmakers to support Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, rather than risk leaving the EU without an agreement in place: "We are very much focused on working to make sure there is no no-deal Brexit because it would trigger disadvantages for my own country and for the EU at large. It might have a negative effect on jobs in Germany."

The German foreign minister was dire in his warning, saying, "Even a no-deal scenario is still an option despite the serious damage that this would cause on both sides."

DW's Fabian von der Mark, traveling with Maas, posted a tweet citing Maas describing Germany's special understanding of "how walls and borders can threaten peace."

Addressing British media reports that the UK government was mulling an extension of the March 29 Brexit deadline, Coveney said an extension of article 50 would "have to get consideration at an EU level."

"But certainly from an Irish perspective, if such an ask happens, we won't be standing in the way on that," he added.

Speeding into the unknown

The British parliament is set to vote on May's deal on January 15. Many observers expect it to end in defeat for the prime minister, who was forced to postpone an earlier vote in December due to lack of support.

May herself has repeatedly refused to ask for a delay on Brexit, while warning that by not supporting her plan British lawmakers would run the risk of derailing Brexit and crashing out of the bloc in chaotic fashion. Any extension of the deadline for Britain leaving the EU would require unanimous approval from the EU's remaining 27 member states.

js/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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