The UK wants a selective approach to an all-Ireland agri-food zone, which would mean only sporadic alignment of EU rules north and south, RTÉ News understands.

It would mean some animal health and food safety checks still being required on the Irish border.

British negotiators have also confirmed during talks in Brussels they want Northern Ireland to remain within UK, and not EU rules, when it comes to customs and industrial goods.

London is insisting that the customs and regulatory differentials on both sides of the border that would arise in such a scenario would be managed by technology, trusted trader schemes and wholesale exemptions from EU law.

EU officials have expressed dismay at the proposals.

"What they're putting forward don't even meet any of the three objectives in the backstop," says one official.

These objectives include no hard border, protecting the all-island economy, and preserving north-south cooperation.

On the selective approach to an all-island agri-food zone, it is understood that one of the areas the UK does not want alignment on is EU labelling rules.

Such rules oblige food producers to label ingredients, additives, allergens and so on.

The proposals were part of a series of so-called "non-papers" submitted by London to EU negotiators, and taken up during talks today between Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

EU member states were briefed on the proposals late this afternoon. According to well-placed sources there was strong opposition from a number of member states to the British proposals.

The UK government has been publicly floating the idea of an all-Ireland zone for agri-food and animal health, which would be aligned under EU rules.

This approach would have meant no checks or controls on the Irish land border for food products, live animals and animal-derived products.

However, following today's round of talks, it appears the UK wants such an arrangement to be selective, with some EU rules applying north and south, but others not applying.

Brexit coordinators from a number of member states described the approach as "cherry picking".

Another source described the proposals as "a backward step".

UK officials have also made clear that they do not want any such solutions to be agreed on a legally operable basis at this point.

Instead, they are insisting such ideas, including technology and exemptions, would be worked out during a transition period that would follow if a Withdrawal Agreement was ratified.

"All of it is quite sobering," said one source.

"It's cherry picking on [agri-food] rules, regulatory controls on industrial goods done away from the border, with extensive derogations. None of this legally operable. It is currently only concepts to be worked out during the transition."

"This looks like we're heading for an impasse," said one source briefing on the meeting.

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