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Tánaiste Simon Coveney briefs Brexit Stakeholders Forum

On 29 January 2020, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., convened the Brexit Stakeholders Forum to discuss next steps in the Brexit process.

The Tánaiste briefed Forum members on recent developments and on expectations for how the next phase of Brexit will unfold, in the context of the UK’s imminent departure from the EU at 11pm on Friday, 31 January 2020. Noting that the UK’s exit will allow negotiations on the Future EU-UK Relationship to begin, the Tánaiste said,

“Two days from now, UK membership of the European Union will end. A transition period will be in place until 31 December 2020 – during this period, the UK will continue to follow EU rules and in return, it will be treated as if it is a Member State. This is hugely important in giving certainty to citizens and businesses that current arrangements will continue for the rest of 2020.

The focus now is on agreeing an EU-UK relationship for the future and to ensure effective implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The end of the transition period will inevitably involve significant changes, in particular for many of our businesses. The Government is continuing its work to make sure that Ireland is ready for all Brexit scenarios, and it is vital that all stakeholders remain engaged together on this work.”

When the UK has left the EU, negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship can formally begin. Together with our EU partners, Ireland will work for the closest, deepest and broadest possible relationship with the UK, based on a balance of rights and obligations.

The ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement means that the dedicated Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will be in place regardless of the outcome of the Future Relationship negotiations. The provisions of the Protocol are central to delivering Ireland’s consistent objectives of protecting the Good Friday Agreement, including avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland; and protecting the integrity of the Single Market and Customs Union and Ireland’s place in them.

Promoting Ireland’s interests throughout the Future Relationship negotiations, and implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol, alongside ongoing work on Brexit preparedness, will be important priorities in the period ahead.

ENDS

PRESS OFFICE

29 JANUARY 2020

 

 

Notes to Editor

-The Brexit Stakeholders Forum is made up of representatives from political parties, industry stakeholders and key Government departments. It has met 22 times since it was established in September 2017.
 
-On 31 January 2020 at 11pm Irish-time, the UK will exit the European Union. A transition period will be in place until 31 December 2020. This period can be extended for one or two years by a joint decision by the EU and UK. The decision to extend must be taken by 30 June 2020. 
 
-During the transition period, the EU will treat the UK as if it were a Member State, with the exception of participation in EU institutions and governance structures. The whole of the EU acquis will apply to the UK during the transition, meaning that day-to-day arrangements for citizens and businesses will remain in place.
 
-After the UK’s exit, the European Commission will publish a draft negotiating mandate for the Future Relationship discussions. This mandate will then be considered by EU 27 Ministers at the General Affairs Council. When Ministers have adopted the negotiating mandate, talks with the UK can begin. 
 
-The ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement means that, regardless of the outcome of the Future Relationship discussions, the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will be in place. The Protocol upholds measures to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, maintain the Common Travel Area, the Single Electricity Market and protect continuing North South cooperation. It maintains commitments to ensure no diminution of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity as set out in the Good Friday Agreement. It confirms that people in Northern Ireland will continue to enjoy their rights as EU citizens and reaffirms the EU and UK commitment to the PEACE PLUS programme.  
 
-In order to avoid a hard border the Protocol allows Northern Ireland to benefit from access to the Single Market without tariffs, quotas, checks or controls while at the same time remaining in the UK customs territory. It is complex but operational.  The EU has been clear that under the agreement in this detailed legal text, there will be a system of checks and controls for goods, including food and live animals entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain. This reflects that these goods will be effectively entering the Single Market, which must be protected to the benefit of all Member States.  
 
-While Brexit will inevitably mean significant changes, some important things will remain the same regardless. Both the Government of Ireland and the UK Government have committed to maintaining the CTA in all circumstances. Under the Common Travel Area, Irish and British citizens move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and privileges such as access to education, social protection and healthcare. 
 
-The Government continues to build on the extensive preparedness work undertaken to date to ensure that Ireland is ready for all possible Brexit scenarios.  Citizens and businesses can log onto www.gov.ie/Brexit to find out more about this work and the Government supports available. 

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