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Minister Dara Murphy and EU Ministers hold discussions on the future of Europe and Malta’s Presidency priorities ahead of Valletta Summit

The Minister of State for European Affairs, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Dara Murphy T.D., today represented Ireland at a meeting of Europe Ministers hosted by the Maltese Presidency of the EU. The informal meeting of the General Affairs Council, which took place in Valletta, included a roundtable exchange on the future of Europe ahead of a meeting of EU leaders on the same theme next week and also focused on Malta’s priorities for its EU Presidency.

Minister Murphy welcomed the clarity today from the UK Government that it will stick to its timetable to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, following this morning’s ruling by the UK Supreme Court. Speaking after the meeting, the Minister said:

“There was a broad welcome from Europe Ministers at today’s meeting that the UK Government will press ahead with its objective to trigger the Article 50 process before the end of March, following this morning’s ruling by the UK Supreme Court. That clarity is important for Ireland and our EU partners as we work towards the start of the negotiations process with the UK.

On the discussions on the future of Europe, the Minister commented:

“EU Heads of State and Government will meet in Valletta next week to discuss the future of Europe. Today’s exchange between Europe Ministers was an important opportunity to address the ‘crisis of confidence’ that has occurred in the EU, most worryingly among our citizens, but also more broadly, across the European political landscape and around the world.

“I fully endorse the Presidency’s conclusion that the best and really the only way to address the doubts of our own citizens is to focus on delivery, delivery, delivery. Ireland is in no doubt about the importance of the upcoming negotiations on the UK exit, but we cannot and will not let it overwhelm the EU and our ability to chart our course for the future.”

Commenting on the priorities that Malta has set for its first presidency, Minister Murphy added:

“Our discussion on Malta’s priorities for the EU for the next six months was a valuable one. It’s critical that a presidency has buy-in from EU partners in terms of driving our common EU agenda forward. I very much welcome Malta’s emphasis on migration and the single market, including the digital single market, as well as its focus on social inclusion, including LGBTIQ issues, and on the maritime agenda. From one small island nation to another, I wish Malta every success for the period ahead.”