Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
32. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding Brexit talks; and if he will call on the UK Government to fulfil its legal commitments and obligations regarding Brexit and the protections contained in the Irish protocol of the withdrawal agreement. [11074/20]
39. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the recent comments by the EU chief negotiator regarding Brexit and the need for the UK Government to honour the Northern Ireland protocol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11607/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 39 together.
Full implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is a key priority for the EU, as well as for Ireland. The Government remains in close contact with the European Commission and our EU partners on this matter.
Over recent weeks, I have had contacts with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, as well as with UK counterparts, including in respect of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. I have stressed the importance of ensuring the full implementation of the Protocol, as agreed.
It is the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland that ensures that we will avoid a hard border on this island, that the gains of the Good Friday Agreement are protected and the integrity of the Single Market and Ireland's place in it are safeguarded. Mr Barnier has been clear that the EU will continue to monitor closely implementation of the Protocol. Ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement means that the Protocol will be in place from 1 January next year regardless of the outcome of the EU-UK negotiations on the future relationship.
The European Commission has set out clearly and in detail what needs to be addressed in terms of implementation of the Protocol, in its note published on 30 April. The UK has also set out its approach to implementing the protocol in a paper published on 20 May. What we need now is for the UK to provide the technical detail necessary to make the Protocol fully operational by the end of the transition period. Progress on implementation will provide certainty to citizens and to business which is of crucial importance.
The Joint Committee met for the second time last Friday and Ireland once again participated as part of the EU delegation. We look forward to future early meetings of the Specialised Committee as it continues its work.
Full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol will help to create the confidence that we need across the EU as we build our future partnership with the UK.