- - Calls on all sides to act responsibly
- - Expresses confidence in Michel Barnier to effectively represent Ireland’s interests
- - Will work with colleagues across Government on all aspects of Brexit
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with Special Responsibility for Brexit, Simon Coveney TD, has welcomed the joint announcement yesterday evening by the European Commission and the UK's Department on Exiting the EU that Michel Barnier, the EU's Chief negotiator, and David Davis, Secretary of State for exiting the EU, will launch the Article 50 negotiations in Brussels on Monday, 19 June.
Speaking in Dublin today, where he met with the DUP and Sinn Féin to discuss the political situation in Northern Ireland, Minister Coveney said:
“Almost one year after the British people decided to leave the EU, Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK will begin in Brussels next Monday, 19 June. I very much welcome the opening of the negotiations, which are not only important for the EU and the UK but are one of the most important set of negotiations in the recent history of our country.
“Monday will be the start of a long and difficult road. It is vital that in these opening discussions a positive tone is struck and that momentum in created so that progress can be made as quickly as possible on the many complex issues facing the negotiators.
“Barring a unanimous decision to extend the time available, a withdrawal agreement must enter into force by March 2019 to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK.
“Not to reach such an agreement with a resulting disorderly withdrawal would, I believe, be damaging for all concerned and certainly disastrous for Ireland. It is therefore incumbent on all sides to act responsibly and to approach these negotiations in a constructive, positive and ambitious frame of mind with a willingness to compromise. I believe with this approach we can have a successful outcome that is in the interests of all.
“Monday will be an important day for Ireland. As one of the EU27, we will be negotiating from a position of strength. The EU interests are Ireland's interests and I have every confidence in our Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, to deliver on these. The EU has set out its position clearly and in this position there is a strong acknowledgment of Ireland's unique concerns and priorities, including on protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process, avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area.
“It is important that in this first phase of the negotiations, sufficient progress is made on our issues , together with the issues of citizens' rights and the UK's financial liabilities, so that we can move as quickly as possible to begin discussions on the framework of the future relationship between the EU and the UK, including on trade. Minimising the impact of Brexit on Ireland's trade and economy is also a key priority for the Irish Government and I will be working with my colleagues across Government to ensure that the Brexit negotiations can lead to the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK and that effective transitional arrangements are put in place to smooth the path to this new relationship.
“I therefore want to wish the Chief Negotiators on both sides, Michel Barnier and David Davis, the very best of luck in the difficult task ahead of them. Over the coming months, I will work to ensure these negotiations protect and advance Ireland's interests and deliver the best outcome for our people, for our businesses and for our island."