- - Minister Flanagan to again meet with European Commission Chief negotiator Michel Barnier
- - Minister will meet Guy Verhofstadt, European Parliament Brexit Negotiator
- - Minister to meet several EU Commissioners and MEPs
- - Minister will highlight Ireland's concerns and re-emphasise Ireland’s commitment to the EU and our active role as a member of the EU 27 for the upcoming negotiations
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, is Brussels today (Thursday) for a comprehensive series of Brexit engagements with key figures within the European Commission and European Parliament. The visit is part of the Government's strategic engagement across the EU in advance of the triggering of Article 50 next month. Minister Flanagan said:
"This visit to Brussels will build upon earlier discussions that we have had with the Commission and Parliament about the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. It is imperative that the key players within the EU Institutions understand the Ireland-specific concerns, not least in relation to Northern Ireland, the Common Travel Area and the disproportionate impact on the Irish economy of a UK departure from the EU. After months of targeted outreach across the capitals of Europe, I am satisfied that there is a sound understanding amongst our partners about the unique concerns which face Ireland in the context of Brexit. Now, as we approach the start of the negotiations, we are intensifying this engagement to ensure that Ireland’s interests and priorities are reflected in the EU’s negotiating position.”
Minister Flanagan continued:
“We have been preparing intensively across Government since the 24th of June, and our objective is clear: to secure the best outcome for Ireland and for the EU. To that end, today’s discussions are a good opportunity for me to discuss with key players in the negotiations, the issues of critical importance to Ireland and how best to get the negotiations with the UK off to a positive and constructive start.
“Once Article 50 is triggered next month, the EU side will need to sit down and agree a set of guidelines to frame the negotiating process. It is critical that we are ready to press on with these discussions once the UK has formally notified the European Council of its intentions. And let me be clear, Ireland will enter this next phase from a position of strength within a unified and greatly experienced EU27 team, and we will be ready for the negotiations when they begin.”
During his visit to Brussels Minister Flanagan will have a second bilateral meeting with Michel Barnier, Head of the European Commission Taskforce, who will lead the technical discussions on behalf of the EU. Minister Flanagan commented:
“Michel Barnier and I had very constructive discussions when he visited Dublin last October. He knows Ireland well and - as he has commented publicly - is intimately familiar with the profound implications of Brexit for the people of this island. Since our October meeting there has been sustained engagement between Irish officials and officials from Mr Barnier’s Taskforce. The common objective is to find a way through the complexities posed. Today's meeting provides a welcome and timely opportunity to get a sense from Mr Barnier on the next steps, particularly as we now have a much clearer idea of the type of future relationship that the UK will seek to establish with the European Union post departure.”
Minister Flanagan will also have a number of meetings with a MEPs, including Guy Verhofstadt, European Parliament Brexit Negotiator; the Irish MEPs; Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, David McAllister MEP; and other senior MEPs including Gianni Pittella and Elmar Brok.
Minister Flanagan noted:
“The European Parliament is a critically important player in the Brexit negotiations and I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet with a number of senior MEPs, including Ireland’s team in Parliament, on this visit to Brussels. I am looking forward to these discussions with MEPs about the forthcoming negotiations process and I am very conscious of the important role of the European Parliament”.