The negotiations on the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union are concluded. On 25 November 2018, the European Council endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the Political Declaration on the EU-UK future relationship. The Withdrawal Agreement was also agreed by the British Cabinet, although it has yet to be ratified in the UK.
Throughout the negotiations there has been a strong understanding, and support, from our EU partners, of the need to address the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland. North-South economic and social cooperation has benefitted people across the island, and supported the development of an all-island economy that has enhanced the prosperity of all, and underscored the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which forms an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement, therefore contains important commitments and assurances in this regard, regarding the Good Friday Agreement, North-South cooperation and citizens’ rights.
At the same time, in co-operation with our UK partners, we have worked to reaffirm the Common Travel Area arrangement between Ireland and the UK, and our shared commitment to protect the associated reciprocal rights and privileges it provides. These arrangements guarantee the rights of Irish and British citizens to live, work, study, and access healthcare, social security and public services in each other’s jurisdictions. The CTA is an important enabler of the cross-border freedoms central to the lives and livelihoods of the people of Northern Ireland and the border region. This include young people who, no matter what the outcome to Brexit, will be able to move freely across the island to live, work or study.
Together with UK Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and the United Kingdom on the Common Travel Area (CTA) and its associated reciprocal rights and privileges in London on 8 May, immediately prior to the meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
It remains our priority to achieve the closest possible relationship with the UK, post-Brexit. Issues of importance to young people will also be addressed as part of the negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. This is supported by the Political Declaration on the EU-UK future relationship, which establishes the framework for the negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, and makes clear the determination of both sides to achieve an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership, including in the areas of youth, culture and education.