Tomorrow and Friday, I will attend a meeting of the European Council in Brussels and a meeting of the euro summit. On Thursday afternoon, we will focus on the multi-annual financial framework and follow that work with a discussion on external relations in the evening. On Friday, the meeting will begin with a discussion of citizen consultation on the future of Europe followed by an exchange on the Single Market. The euro summit will take place at lunchtime. Other issues to be discussed include migration, the challenge posed by large-scale disinformation, the fight against racism, xenophobia and climate change. I will focus my remarks today on the Single Market, migration, disinformation and external relations as well as on the euro summit. The Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, will speak about the other European Council issues in greater detail in her statement. However, I will turn first to Brexit, which we will also discuss in Brussels on Thursday in Article 50 format.
The UK Government has postponed the planned vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons and there have been further developments this morning within the Conservative Party. As I said before, the withdrawal agreement, of which the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, including the backstop, is an integral part, has been endorsed by the European Union and agreed with the UK Government. Therefore, it carries the support of 28 Governments. It is the result of over 20 months of complicated technical negotiations and represents a carefully balanced compromise among 28 states. It is the best possible deal to protect the European Union's interests and those of the United Kingdom to ensure an orderly withdrawal and it cannot be renegotiated. The European Union and the 27 member states are united on this. We should not forget that the backstop is not just an Irish issue. It is there to prevent the emergency of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland but it is also there to protect the Single Market and ensure that an open Irish border does not become a back door to the European Union. As such, it is a European issue too.
We should recall that a UK-wide backstop rather than a Northern Ireland specific one was included at the request of the UK Government. It is important to bear in mind that the United Kingdom took the decision to leave the European Union and thereafter the UK Government set out a number of red lines, including no customs union, no Single Market, no free movement of people and no recognition of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The agreement we reached was achieved, working around the constraints, by drawing around the UK's red lines. The European Union has always stated that if the United Kingdom's approach to the future relationship evolves and the red lines are erased, we will be willing to take that into account in the negotiations on the future relationship treaty in accordance, of course, with our guidelines and based on the balance between rights and obligations.
I hope that the withdrawal agreement will be ratified by the UK Parliament and the European Parliament in due course, but the Government, in close co-operation with the EU, is continuing its work to prepare for all possible outcomes including the central case scenario and the no-deal scenario. We are accelerating the recruitment of customs officers and veterinary health inspectors and we are developing infrastructure in ports and enabling legislation. We will be as ready as we can be for all eventualities. Whatever happens, Ireland will remain at the heart of the European Union, the eurozone and the Single Market in the common European home we helped to build.
Four times in our nation's history we have travelled a different path from that of Britain: when we became independent and founded the Free State; when we declared a republic; when we floated the punt; and when we joined the euro without the United Kingdom. On each occasion there were risks, challenges, opportunities and a transition period, but on each occasion we emerged stronger and wealthier. That will be the case again.
My final remark on Brexit is to recognise the noteworthy contrast between the political situation here in Dublin and that in London. Both the United Kingdom and Ireland are faced with existential threats because of Brexit. However, we have a degree of political stability and a degree of consensus across the House. That makes our country a much better place and puts it in a much stronger position as these negotiations continue.
The Single Market, which marks its 25th anniversary this year, is one of the great achievements of the Union. It has brought about increased employment, increased trade and greater competition and higher living standards for our citizens. It has also given us, as European citizens, the freedom to work or study anywhere in the Union. Its further development is essential to ensure Europe's continued competitiveness on the world stage. This is a priority for Ireland as a trading country. We have been working closely with like-minded partners to ensure a high level of political ambition with a particular focus on unlocking the Single Market's full potential in the areas of digitalisation and trade in services. Our approach is informed by the work led by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Humphreys, in conjunction with her counterparts in Finland, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Last month, they launched a report commissioned from Copenhagen Economics entitled Making EU Trade in Services Work for All.
This meeting of the European Council also provides a timely opportunity to reflect on the implementation of the comprehensive approach to migration agreed at the June Council meeting. Europe can only respond effectively to large migratory flows by working together and I support the three-pronged approach we agreed in June. These three prongs are: securing our external borders, strengthening co-operation with countries of transit and origin, and dealing with the management of migrants within the EU on the basis of solidarity. The European Union needs an asylum system that can respond effectively to large-scale migratory movements, both legal and illegal. We are engaged in efforts to reform the common European asylum system. Discussions on controlled centres and disembarkation platforms have taken place in recent months. As I have stated previously, we would only seek to progress these initiatives if we were satisfied that they would be fully compliant with our obligations under international law. We continue to co-operate closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration to this end.
Collaboration with these organisations is also an important part of our efforts to support our African partners both through Irish Aid and the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. We have pledged €15 million for this purpose. This is the third highest contribution per capita in the European Union. The global compact on migration, which was signed at Marrakesh earlier this week - with the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, representing the Irish Government - reflects the need for co-operation at a global level without dictating how states should determine their own policies. It is regrettable that some EU member states did not participate in the compact. I hope they will revisit this decision in the future.
Following our discussions at the June Council meeting, the Commission will present its action plan against disinformation. I fully support the efforts to see off this evolving threat. It is important that we work together to counter disinformation activities that threaten our shared democracy. The plan sets out four things we must do, namely: improve detection, analysis and exposure of disinformation; strengthen co-operation to enable a more cohesive response; engage with industry; and raise public awareness and support quality media and journalism. It is essential that the electoral process is safeguarded from inappropriate online interference and manipulation and that we respect international law and fundamental rights. The open policy forum held in Dublin Castle on 6 December examined some of the issues related to this including the regulation of transparency of online political advertising. The EU must act in a co-ordinated and comprehensive way and I look forward to discussing this further with EU partners.
On external relations, we will discuss preparations for the summit between the European Union and the Arab League, which is scheduled to take place in Cairo in February. Recent developments in Russia and Ukraine are also likely to be discussed. The Government is gravely concerned about the increasing militarisation of Crimea and the Sea of Azov. We support calls for all sides to de-escalate the situation. Ireland is unwavering in its support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and we do not recognise Russia's annexation of Crimea. As part of our efforts to develop relations with Ukraine, we will open an embassy there as part of the Global Ireland 2025 initiative. I firmly believe that unity at EU level must continue to be the cornerstone of our approach to Russia. The EU is at its strongest when it speaks with one voice and I will emphasise this in my engagement with European partners.
We will also have an exchange on the fight against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Ireland fully supports the ongoing efforts in this area, including the Council's declaration on 6 December on the fight against anti-Semitism. All states share a duty to work towards achieving societies that are free of inequality, repression and discrimination in accordance with their international obligations.
The focus of our discussions at the euro summit will be on strengthening and deepening economic and monetary union. The summit is expected to endorse the positive outcome of negotiations among Finance Ministers in recent months. These negotiations recently saw agreement reached on the reform of the European Stability Mechanism, ESM, which will now have additional responsibilities in the areas of crisis prevention and resolution in the eurozone and in advancing banking union. I welcome these positive developments which mark a further step in the development of economic and monetary union and which will serve to strengthen the resilience of our banking system and the overall stability of the eurozone. I expect that some will also want to discuss the possibility of a budgetary instrument for the eurozone as part of the multi-annual financial framework. This is a proposal which we are open to considering.
I look forward to reporting back to the House next week on 19 December on the outcome of these meetings.