The negotiations on both the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration on the framework for the EU-UK future relationship, both of which were endorsed by the European Council on 25 November, were conducted on behalf of the EU27 by the EU's Chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the Commission's Article 50 Taskforce.
Brexit is a priority issue for the Government, and a number of key decisions have been taken on measures to support East-West trade, that include staffing, ICT and infrastructure measures to implement checks and controls at our ports and borders. The Government also provided dedicated Brexit support measures in Budgets 2017, 2018, and 2019 to support businesses.
My key area of interest is the impact of Brexit on the current reciprocal arrangements for social insurance schemes, social assistance schemes and child benefit between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland.
I met with the then UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Right Honourable Esther McVey, on 23 April 2018. We agreed on our objective in ensuring that the reciprocity of social welfare rights and entitlements, which currently exist for Irish and UK citizens moving within Ireland and between Ireland and Britain under the CTA, are safeguarded and maintained.
I have a dedicated team in my Department which is conducting a deep analysis of scenarios on a scheme by scheme basis and contingency planning is on-going for all outcomes.