Thursday, 14 December 2017
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
51. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the priorities of Ireland for phase two of Brexit negotiations as they relate to individual sectors of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54103/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 52 together.
The second phase of the Article 50 negotiations will enable discussions to get under way between the EU and the UK on transitional arrangements and on the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
Ireland’s overriding objective is that a future EU-UK 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. We also want to see transition arrangements which preserve the status quo in terms of British rights and obligations, other than in relation to membership of the EU institutions and agencies. They should be in place for a period long enough to allow for an orderly Brexit.
It will also be important to maintain a clear focus on the unique challenges faced by Ireland. All aspects of the Irish specific issues will continue to be worked on in a distinct stream of work in phase 2. The EU27, including Ireland, will therefore need to be satisfied that the principles and commitments agreed on Friday are delivered upon and reflected in the withdrawal agreement.
There is no question that Brexit poses very significant and serious challenges to Ireland’s economy and trade, as well as across a range of other sectors. While in recent years we have been diversifying increasingly to other markets, Ireland is still heavily reliant on the UK as a trading partner. A number of key sectors will also be impacted significantly, including, but not limited to, agri-food, fisheries, financial services, transport, energy, enterprise and trade more generally.
In this regard, Ireland’s approach to phase two of the negotiations will continue to be informed by the detailed sectoral work being done by individual Departments, and through cross-Departmental coordination structures chaired by my Department. These represent a very active channel through which all relevant Departments are providing their research, analysis and overall policy input to the Government’s overall response to Brexit, including its priorities for the next phase of the Article 50 negotiations.
Since taking up office, engagement on Brexit with Michel Barnier and his Taskforce, and with other EU partners, has been a central element of my work and that of my Department and our Missions. This approach has yielded clear results in ensuring that Ireland’s unique issues and concerns have been fully understood by our EU27 partners and have been reflected in the EU’s negotiating position and the outcome of Phase 1. As the negotiations move to a new phase in 2018, we will continue working closely with the Commission Task Force to advance Irish priorities.