I propose to take Questions Nos. 59, 61 and 63 together.
The outcome of last week’s British General Election has clarified the way forward on Brexit. Prime Minister Johnson has indicated that he wishes to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement as soon as possible and we look forward to working with the new Government.
It is expected that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be reintroduced later this week, with a view to completion of its Parliamentary process at Westminster in January. The European Parliament will also have to provide its consent on the EU side. Once this is complete, the UK will leave the EU, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, on 31 January 2020.
While we regret the UK’s decision to leave the EU, we respect it and we look forward to building a strong new relationship with them in the period ahead.
The revised Withdrawal Agreement meets our objectives, including protecting the Good Friday Agreement, 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.
At its meeting on 13 December the European Council invited the Commission to submit a draft comprehensive mandate for a future relationship with the UK immediately after its withdrawal. The Political Declaration on the Future Relationship sets out the parameters for an ambitious, broad, deep and felxible partnership across trade and economic cooperation, centered on a Free Trade Agreement, but also including broader sectoral and strategic engagement.
Ireland has consistently supported the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK, in the interests of Ireland, North and South, and British-Irish relations, as well as in terms of our economic and trading priorities. We also have signigicant interests in ensuring adequate level playing field provisions to facilitate fair competition.
The administrative approach to implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland will be clarified during the transition period. The EU and UK will work together in the Joint Committee to provide further detail on how the Protocol works in practice. Ireland will play our part constructively, as an EU Member State, to make sure that these processes work for the island of Ireland, including in respect of the all-island economy, North-South co-operation and the ongoing protection of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.
Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 51.
Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 59.