During his trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (12 March):
The agreement reached yesterday is very important. It reaffirms our shared understanding that the backstop is an insurance policy – nothing more and nothing less. The EU and the UK have now clarified and confirmed this understanding once more in a legally binding form.
With the full support of the EU27, the European Commission has done everything possible to resolve any open questions. I would like to thank the Commission very much for its tireless efforts and I appeal to the House of Commons to do justice to its responsibility today.
For the entire duration of the negotiations, the EU has demonstrated its open, constructive and earnest approach. We, too, had to strike difficult compromises. But from the very outset, we also stated clearly and openly what our priorities and red lines are: the internal market which we have worked hard to build must not be divided or weakened. And: there can be no hard border on the island of Ireland to avoid endangering the peace process there.