Thursday, 11 May 2017
Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann: Sitting in Joint Committee - Exchange of views with Mr. Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator of the Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of Negotiations with the United Kingdom
A Chomhghleacaithe, tá fáilte is fiche romhaibh go léir chuig an gcomhshuí speisialta seo den Dáil agus den Seanad chun plé a dhéanamh ar cheann de na dúshláin pholaitíochta is mó atá roimh an oileán seo i láthair na huaire, agus go deimhin, roimh an Eoraip ar fad, is é sin, an Ríocht Aontaithe a bheith ag fágáil an Aontais Eorpaigh. On behalf of both myself and the Cathaoirleach, I wish to welcome the Members of both Houses and Mr. Michel Barnier to this sitting in joint committee. We are here for an exchange of views with Mr. Barnier, who, as Members will know, is the chief negotiator of the task force for the preparation and conduct of negotiations with the United Kingdom. We will now go into committee. Accordingly, I invite Mr. Barnier to take his seat in the Chamber.
Monsieur Barnier, au nom de tous les Membres du Dáil Éireann et du Seanad Éireann, soyez le bienvenu ici aujourd'hui. Nous sommes ravis et honorés que vous ayez accepté notre invitation à vous adresser aux chambres de l'Oireachtas, réunies en séance commune. The decision by the United Kingdom last year to withdraw from the European Union will have a profound effect on Europe and its citizens but it also raises a number of specific and important issues that are unique to Ireland. For instance, concerns have been raised about its impact on Northern Ireland and the peace process as well as its impact on the common travel area between Ireland and the United Kingdom. Since the formal notification on 29 March 2017, of the UK’s intention to withdraw, preparations for the start of the negotiations have intensified. As Members will be aware, the European Council agreed guidelines for the first phase of negotiations on 29 April 2017. Last week the European Commission published its draft negotiating directives.
Our exchange of views today is therefore very timely and we hope it will contribute positively to the preparations for the negotiations. Let me also say I firmly believe today’s sitting demonstrates how national parliaments can contribute effectively to public debate on matters of concern to the Union, which of course is one of the principal objectives of Article 12 of the treaty.
Mr. Barnier, we are conscious of the very challenging road ahead. We wish you and your task force well in your important work and it is our sincere hope that an agreement can be reached that protects the principles of the Union and the interests of its member states while maintaining a strong relationship with the United Kingdom. With those few thoughts, I invite you now to address us.