Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (13)

Lisa Chambers


13. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his latest meeting with Mr. Michel Barnier; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40520/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My officials and I remain in close, regular contact with the Commission Taskforce and with Mr Barnier. I last met with Michel Barnier in Brussels on 27 September to exchange views on ongoing developments, including the Task Force's discussions with the UK. He reiterated the EU’s strong commitment to ensuring a fully operational solution in the Withdrawal Agreement that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland and protects the all-island economy and the integrity of the Single Market.

The UK put forward its proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland on 2 October. While Mr Barnier has welcomed the tabling of formal proposals, there is work to be done to narrow the considerable gap between the EU and UK positions. Discussions are ongoing in Brussels with a range of significant concerns on the EU side, notably as regards the British proposals on customs arrangements and on governance arrangements.

Ireland and the EU want a deal – but it is very clear that any deal must respect the EU’s core objectives. Any alternative to the backstop must meet all of its objectives. It must protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, avoiding a hard border, including any physical infrastructure and related checks and controls, protecting North South cooperation and the all island economy, and protecting the integrity of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union and Ireland’s place in them.

With 9 days until the European Council and 23 until 31 October, we hope that the UK engages constructively with Michel Barnier and the Task Force as we all continue to work towards a deal and orderly UK withdrawal. I and my officials are in ongoing contact with Michel Barnier and his team.

I will meet Mr Barnier again later today in Brussels.