The EU is willing to allow a double majority in the Northern Ireland assembly to preserve the new Irish backstop after an unspecified number of years, according to Times reporter Bruno Waterfield.
NEW EU ready to make a major concession on consent by allowing a double majority in the NI assembly to leave new Irish backstop after (as yet) unspecified number of yearshttps://t.co/BtBTS1TxaR— Bruno Waterfield (@BrunoBrussels) October 9, 2019
Plan is for consent mechanism of double majority within Stormont, to leave, not to continue with the arrangements after X years, a source told The Times— Bruno Waterfield (@BrunoBrussels) October 9, 2019
Waterfield added, citing an unnamed source, that EU diplomats explain the necessity for having a double majority by citing the Good Friday Agreement's commitment to “parity of esteem” for both the unionist and nationalist communities.
Diplomats cite Good Friday Agreement’s commitment to “parity of esteem” for both the unionist and nationalist communities as the reasoning behind have a “double majority”— Bruno Waterfield (@BrunoBrussels) October 9, 2019
The journalist went on to say that the EU wants Dublin to accept a customs border in the Irish Sea, citing a lack of political reason for the UK to have a customs border distinct from another regulatory border.
EU argument is that with the consent mechanism there is no real political reason for the UK to separate have a customs border that is distinct from another regulatory border— Bruno Waterfield (@BrunoBrussels) October 9, 2019
Waterfield concluded that the offer is regarded as "an eleventh-hour attempt to find a landing zone for a deal before the weekend".
Offer is seen as an eleventh hour attempt to find a “landing zone” for a deal before the weekend and a make-or-break” summit fo European leaders next week— Bruno Waterfield (@BrunoBrussels) October 9, 2019
The Irish backstop is a mechanism that would prevent the reintroduction of a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. In case the backstop comes into force, Northern Ireland will remain a member of the single market, meaning goods crossing the Irish border won't be subject to checks for customs standards. The backstop issue has remained a stumbling block in negotiations between London and Brussels with both sides failing to agree to what extent Northern Ireland should be excluded from the EU single market and customs union after Brexit.
Brexit has been postponed several times amid the London's failure to internally negotiate the divorce terms and is now scheduled to take place on 31 October.