Tuesday, 17 September 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Throughout the Article 50 process I, as well as officials from my Department, have had frequent and ongoing contact with representatives from other EU27 Member States, the Commission and the Article 50 Task Force headed by Michel Barnier.
I spoke with Mr Barnier by phone on Monday (16 September), ahead of President Juncker’s meeting with Prime Minister Johnson. As in my most recent meeting with Mr Barnier in Brussels on 19 July, we took stock of the ongoing talks between the EU and the UK. The EU's strong solidarity with Ireland and its absolute commitment, notwithstanding the ongoing political impasse in the UK, to protect the Good Friday Agreement remains clear.
While we welcome the intensification of discussions between the European Commission and the UK, it is the UK's responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement. At this point, no such proposals have yet been made, and it is important that the UK communicate their concrete ideas to the Commission on how they intend to deliver an orderly withdrawal.
I plan to meet Mr Barnier again shortly, and senior officials from my Department and the Department of the Taoiseach continue to engage with the Task Force on a regular basis.
A meeting of the General Affairs Council on 16 September was attended by Minister McEntee and a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council will take place on 14 October, which I will attend. While Brexit is not formally on the agenda for these Councils, the meetings will provide a further opportunity to discuss issues relating to Brexit and other issues of mutual concern with our partners.
The next meeting of the European Council will take place on 17-18 October.