‘Maintaining EU focus on jobs, growth and competitiveness is key to delivering for citizens’ – Murphy
Minister continues Brexit engagement with EU partners
The Minister of State for European Affairs, Dara Murphy TD, today met with his EU counterparts at the General Affairs Council in Brussels, where Europe Ministers debated the topics and focus of the forthcoming European Council in March and the implementation of the result of the December EU leaders’ summit.
In addition, Ministers considered the European Commission’s blueprint for a sustainable European future - an outline of the EU’s role in implementing the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development. On the sidelines of today’s meeting, Minister Murphy also held discussions with his Croatian, Estonian and Hungarian counterparts.
Speaking after the General Affairs Council meeting, Minister Murphy said:
“Looking ahead to the March summit, it is critical that leaders maintain the EU’s ambition on the jobs, growth and competitiveness agenda. This focus is key to ensuring the EU really delivers for citizens. In the area of the Digital Single Market in particular, we need to see further ambition and momentum, with a stepping up of engagement by the institutions.
"We have a choice in Europe. We will either create the right economic environment here in Europe or accept that the most promising digital opportunities are beyond our grasp. The reality today is that barriers to doing business digitally and across borders are no barriers to growth and jobs. Let's build confidence by doing what we said we would do, which is implement the Digital Single Market by 2018."
On Brexit and his continued engagement with EU partners in capitals and at Council meetings, Minister Murphy continued:
"While Brexit is not formally on our agenda at present, given that the UK has yet to trigger Article 50 and negotiations have yet to commence, I use every meeting of Europe Ministers, including today, as an opportunity to discuss Ireland's perspective on Brexit with EU partners. This is part of a wider engagement by the Taoiseach, Minister Flanagan and other Ministers across Government with our European partners before the UK formally notifies its intention to withdraw.
"In these meetings and in my continued engagements in EU capitals, I am increasingly reassured that there is no appetite among our European partners to take a punitive approach to the negotiations, which would be in nobody's interests."
Following today's General Affairs Council, the Minister met in Brussels with a delegation from the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs for discussions on Brexit.