The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD on Tuesday addressed the Dáil during the Post-European Council Meeting Statements following the European Council on 29 April.
“Following the adoption at the European Council on Saturday of the EU’s negotiating position, we have now reached a point where both the EU and the UK have set out their political objectives for the forthcoming Brexit process,” he said.
“Of course, there are differences but this is to be expected and will have to be worked out as part of the forthcoming negotiations.
“I am pleased that on the matter of Ireland’s unique concerns, common ground can be found between the EU and the UK in particular with regard to protecting the peace process, avoiding a hard border and maintaining the Common Travel Area. This is an outcome that the Government has worked intensively to achieve over the past ten months with saw me engaging in over 80 meetings with our EU partners.
“Overall, the EU’s negotiating position is firm, but fair. It identifies the key objectives that the EU wishes to achieve, in the interest of its Member States, but even more importantly, in the interest of its citizens.”
Flanagan said having now crystallised their key priorities at both the domestic and the EU level; they must now work with their EU partners to deliver them within a complex and dynamic process of negotiation.
“We will be working with our EU partners over the coming week to agree the formal negotiating directive for the Commission which will build on the Guidelines and, with their adoption, will mark the launch of the negotiations,” he said.
The Minster also pointed to the publication on Tuesday of the Government’s Position Paper on the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU as governed by Article 50 of the EU Treaties, adding:
“We have got off to a very good start to our efforts to deliver the best result for Ireland and our citizens but we cannot rest on our laurels. There is a long way to go and the detailed work of my Department, and across Government, continues.
“The Position Paper published today sets out the Government’s approach to the upcoming withdrawal negotiations. It demonstrates clearly that we are ready for the negotiations ahead. It builds on the four headline priorities already identified while also setting out the Government’s position on the EU’s wider priorities, including on the question of the UK’s financial liabilities and EU citizens’ rights. It also looks ahead to the future relationship negotiations and the issues that will need to be addressed in this second phase of the negotiations.
“We are already one month into the two-year process provided for under Article 50. Once negotiations get underway, we must focus on delivering early progress on the key withdrawal issues and to move positively towards opening discussions on the future relationship between the EU and the UK as soon as possible.”