Monday 26 February 2018

Free trade, travel and Border focus of our Brexit shopping list

Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Ireland's Brexit lobbying now revolves around a three-prong strategy over guaranteeing free trade, free travel and no Border controls with the UK.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney said he is now convinced that all European Union (EU) member states understand just how complex and important the fallout from the UK's Brexit will be for Ireland.

He insisted that central to the imminent Brussels negotiations over the UK's departure from the EU will be minimising its economic and social fallout for Ireland, the only remaining English-speaking member state.

The Cork TD also acknowledged that Scotland's demand for a second independence referendum is yet another complication in what is likely to be tortuous two-year negotiations.

"There is no shortage of uncertainty around Brexit," he said. "This (Scottish referendum demand) just adds further to it. (But) I think the Scots are well able to stick up for themselves. I think what Ireland needs to continue to do is to prepare from an Irish perspective for all eventualities.

"Also to work closely with our partners in Northern Ireland - hopefully we will soon have an executive to work with there - so that the Irish issues are the focus of the European negotiating team.

"We need to make sure that we don't have any Border on this island at any stage in the future again. We also need to make sure that we have the kind of free trade that we enjoy with Britain and the free travel that we have on these islands that is very important from an Irish perspective.

"That will be our focus. We have spent the last six or eight months ensuring that our partners in the EU really understand the complexity of Brexit from an Irish perspective."

His warning came after Agriculture Minister Michael Creed stressed that Brexit would have "no upside for Ireland".

Mr Creed stressed that guaranteeing free trade between the two islands was vital for the economies of both. Almost 50pc of Ireland's multi-billion euro food and drinks industry output is either exported directly to the UK or to EU markets via the UK.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had been expected to formally trigger the Article 50 formal departure process from the EU last week. However, while the Brexit legislation was formally passed into law by UK politicians, the shock Scottish independence referendum move has stalled the triggering of Article 50 by London until the end of the month.

Irish Independent

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