The Taoiseach, my cabinet colleagues and I take every opportunity to engage with our EU partners to advance Ireland’s priorities in matters arising from the UK's withdrawal from the EU, including the EU-UK Future Partnership negotiations, implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.
My engagement with key interlocutors on Brexit has continued in recent months, including recent contacts with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, and with a range of EU Foreign Ministers.
Four rounds of negotiations on the EU-UK Future Partnership have now taken place. While the atmosphere of the talks has been constructive, significant gaps remain between the two sides. Speaking after the fourth round of negotiations on 5 June, Michel Barnier underlined the objective of making parallel progress across all issues, and the importance of making progress on key 'sticking points - fisheries, the Level Playing Field, governance, and law enforcement and judicial and police cooperation issues.
The EU-UK future relationship is on the agenda of the informal meeting of Europe Ministers on 16 June and it is also expected to be on the agenda of the meeting of Heads of State and Government on 19 June. A planned High Level Conference between the EU and the UK in June will also assess progress made to date in Future Partnership negotiations.
Officials from across Government are continuing their work to make sure that Ireland’s voice is heard at the Future Partnership negotiations in line with the EU’s negotiating mandate, and that work to implement the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland is taken forward. Ireland has participated, as part of the EU delegation, in the EU-UK Joint Committee and in Specialised Committees established under the Withdrawal Agreement, notably the Specialised Committee on the Implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ireland will also participate at the next meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which will take place on 12 June.
The Government will continue to engage closely and work with the Taskforce and the Commission, our EU partners, and stakeholders across this island on this vital issue.