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Taoiseach and Minister for European Affairs travel to European Council meeting in Brussels

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. and Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne T.D. will travel to Brussels for a meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, 15-16 October.

An Taoiseach will also meet bilaterally with the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, on Thursday afternoon.

The European Council will discuss the state of play in the EU/UK negotiations following a period of intensified talks. Leaders will be briefed by Michel Barnier, the Union’s negotiator, on the latest progress, including on key outstanding issues including fisheries, level playing field and governance.

Leaders will also discuss the Commission’s climate action ambitions, including the proposal to reduce carbon use by at least 55% by 2030. They will also have a strategic discussion on the EU’s relationship with Africa, and will return to their discussion on Covid-19.

Speaking before his departure, An Taoiseach said,

This will be an important meeting of the European Council.

We are entering the final and critical phase in negotiations with the UK and Michel Barnier will give his assessment of how matters stand. We want a positive outcome but, as we have consistently made clear, this cannot be at any price. There are still a number of issues which still have to be resolved, not least on fisheries.

Any balanced agreement has to protect the EU’s interests, including those of our fishing and coastal communities. I will be arguing for an ambitious approach on other matters, including the level playing field, and will join my fellow Leaders in insisting on the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement including its Protocols.

Time is running out to ensure that a deal can be in place before the end of the year. I am urging the British side to engage meaningfully with the EU’s team to accelerate progress in the period ahead.

Building on my own Government’s approach to climate change, I will be supporting increased ambition on climate action including the Union’s proposal to reduce carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

I am also looking forward to the discussion on relations with Africa, and to further coordinating our efforts on Covid-19.

Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne T.D. added,

This week’s European Council is a significant meeting where European Leaders will discuss Covid-19, EU-UK negotiations and climate change. The EU Council follows on from the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg this week where European Ministers met to prepare for this summit. At that meeting, the 27-member states adopted a proposal to coordinate international travel restrictions within the EU. This, together with progress on the development and distribution of a vaccine at the EU level, will form part of the EU Council discussions.

There continues to be solidarity from all EU countries on Brexit and Ireland stands firmly behind the EU negotiation team.