The European Commission Taskforce, led by Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, represents the EU27 in the Article 50 negotiations with the UK. These negotiations are proceeding on the basis of the phased approach set out in the European Council Guidelines of 29 April 2017, which foresaw that discussions on the future EU-UK relationship would get underway as soon as sufficient progress was made on the EU’s key priorities under the withdrawal process – notably citizens’ rights, the UK’s financial settlement and the Irish specific issues.
The Government welcomes the decision of the European Council on 15 December 2018 that sufficient progress has been made in phase one of the Article 50 negotiations. This was a very important step in the negotiations, not least because it allows for discussions on the framework for the future relationship to begin.
There is no question that Brexit poses very significant and serious challenges to Ireland’s economy and trade, as well as across a range of other sectors, including healthcare. As a committed member of the EU, Ireland has engaged fully in the negotiations, as part of the EU27 team and will continue to do so in phase two, where our approach will be to work towards ensuring that the future EU-UK relationship will be as close to the current arrangements as possible.
In this regard, Ireland’s approach to phase two of the negotiations will continue to be informed by the detailed sectoral work being done by individual Departments, including the Department of Health. In this regard, my Department is actively engaging through the cross-Departmental coordination structures chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with a view to informing the Government’s overall response to Brexit, including its priorities for the next phase of the Article 50 negotiations.