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Government Statement on Brexit Preparations

Strategy for Negotiation Process

Government today welcomed the outcome of the weekend's European Council meeting and the overall approach to the forthcoming Brexit negotiations set out in the Guidelines adopted.

These Guidelines reflect Ireland's unique concerns regarding the withdrawal negotiations – to support and protect the achievements, benefits and commitments of the Peace Process, to avoid a hard border, and to protect the Common Travel Area.

The Guidelines also recognise the desirability of moving on to discuss the future relationship between the EU and the UK once sufficient progress has been made on the withdrawal issues, as well as the likely need for transitional arrangements.

The outcome is a major endorsement of the Government’s approach and is a reflection of the government’s focused campaign of strategic engagement with EU Member States and the EU institutions over the past 10 months which has seen over 400 engagements.

The statement agreed by the European Council acknowledges that in the event of a united Ireland, brought about in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement, the entire territory of such a united Ireland would legally be part of the European Union.  This provides reassurance on this aspect of the Agreement, regardless of the status of the UK within the EU. 

Now that the overall approach to the negotiations has been set out by the EU, the Government is publishing today a comprehensive document on Ireland and the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.  This document reflects the findings and outcomes of the extensive preparatory work and consultations undertaken to date and demonstrates how these will be brought to bear in Ireland’s approach to the negotiations in the weeks and months ahead.

Given that the EU’s initial negotiating position is now clear, the Government will intensify its focus on the economic implications of Brexit, including on domestic policy measures to reinforce the competitiveness of the Irish economy, to protect it from potential negative impacts of Brexit, and to pursue all possible opportunities that might arise. 

In order to underpin this, Government will prepare a further paper on economic implications of the Brexit challenge.  This will draw on the work to date across Departments and will reflect the core economic themes of the Taoiseach's speech to the IIEA on 15 February last including: 

  • sustainable fiscal policies to ensure capacity to absorb and respond to economic shocks, not least from Brexit;
  • policies to make Irish enterprise more diverse and resilient, to diversify trade and investment patterns, and to strengthen competitiveness;
  • prioritising policy measures and dedicating resources to protect jobs and businesses in the sectors and regions most affected by Brexit;
  • realising economic opportunities arising from Brexit, and helping businesses adjust to any new logistical or trade barriers arising;
  • making a strong case at EU level that Ireland will require support that recognises where Brexit represents a serious disturbance to the Irish economy.

Policy decisions in support of these objectives arise across a wide range of areas, including the annual Budgetary process; the forthcoming National Planning Framework 2040; the new 10-year National Capital Plan; the Review of Enterprise 2025 Policy, and sectoral policies and investment decisions in areas such as agriculture, enterprise, transport, communications and energy.

The undertaking of this work underlines the fact that we are at the beginning, rather than the end, of what will be a long and complex process.

The Government will continue to engage with EU partners and with stakeholders through regular ongoing consultations, including the All Island Civic Dialogue process, to ensure that Ireland’s concerns and priorities continue to be reflected in the EU’s negotiating position as it evolves, and that we work towards a strong and constructive future relationship with the UK.

The Government is well prepared for the Brexit process and will continue to work to protect and promote Ireland’s interests. 

Download the document: 'Ireland and the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union The Government’s Approach'