Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Ceisteanna (17, 18, 19, 20)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

17. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the EU Council meeting on 29 April 2017; and the details of the contributions he made at the meeting. [20404/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

18. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meetings at the Special European Council on 29 April 2017. [20417/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Burton

Ceist:

19. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his attendance at the most recent European Council meeting. [20445/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

20. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach if he will report on bilateral meetings he had at the European Summit on 29 April 2017. [20693/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 to 20, inclusive, together.

As I outlined last week in my statement to the House, I attended the meeting of the European Council on 29 April. This was the first meeting since Prime Minister May formally notified the European Union of the UK's intention to leave, thereby triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union; and it was therefore a meeting of the 27 remaining Member States.

We adopted the EU negotiating guidelines, and had a broad-ranging discussion about the process ahead. Presidents Tusk and Junker also outlined the process and timelines around the relocation of the two EU agencies currently located in the UK. 

The outcome of the meeting, included the overall EU approach to the withdrawal negotiations, and the acknowledgement of the need to address Ireland's unique concerns, as set out in the guidelines. The declaration which was agreed by the European Council, which provides reassurance that no provision of the Good Friday Agreement, including the provision relating to unity, will be undermined by the UK departure from the EU. 

It was by no means a given that Ireland’s position would be seen as a priority for the negotiations but, thanks to our strategic, persistent and patient work, and the understanding and support of our European partners, Ireland’s specific concerns were fully acknowledged in the guidelines. Supporting and protecting the achievements, benefits and commitments of the Peace Process; avoiding a hard border; and protecting the Common Travel Area will now be addressed as priorities in the exit negotiations.

There was no discussion about the future of the EU at this April meeting of the European Council but it has been considered and discussed at a number of meetings, including informal meetings of the European Council in Bratislava, in Brussels, in Malta and in Rome.

I did not have any bilateral meetings at the European Council on 29 April although I did of course engage with my counterparts at the meeting and informally in the margins.

Questions Nos. 21 to 23, inclusive, resubmitted.