Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Finance
142. To ask the Minister for Finance his views on the recent proposals outlined by a group (details supplied) on the establishment of a new customs arrangement between Britain and the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51698/17]
The precise customs arrangements that will apply after Brexit will depend on the outcome of negotiations between the EU and UK. Evidently the closest trading relationship between the UK and EU is best for Ireland. Ireland’s position is that a future EU-UK Free Trade Agreement should be comprehensive and ambitious and as wide as possible in its scope, while ensuring a level playing field and protecting the integrity of the Single Market.
The Article 50 negotiations between the EU and the UK are proceeding on the basis of the phased approach set out in the European Council Guidelines of 29 April 2017. Ireland fully supports this approach, which foresees that discussions on the future EU-UK relationship, including trade, will get underway as soon as sufficient progress has been made on the EU’s key priorities under the withdrawal process – notably citizens’ rights, the UK’s financial settlement and the Irish specific issues. The European Council is due to assess whether sufficient progress has been made on the key priorities at the December meeting of the Council.
As part of the Department of Finance’s contingency planning, work is ongoing and continues to examine all possible scenarios and challenges, which also includes analysis of external analysis and reports. In that regard, I welcome the contribution of the British-Irish Chamber to the debate. The British-Irish Chamber of Commerce is the leading business group representing the interest of businesses with interests in Britain and Ireland, and is an important voice to be heard in the context of solutions to the unique challenges facing Ireland and Northern Ireland.