Tuesday 20 February 2018

Any trade-offs in a new Europe must be to our benefit

As Brexit looms, moving closer to Europe won't be a solution to the uncertainty - nor will shifting towards London, says Dan O'Brien

Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan Photo: Tom Burke
Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan Photo: Tom Burke

There has been quite a lot of criticism - implicit and explicit - of the Government's handling of Brexit. There are certainly aspects that deserve criticism.

It is, for instance, unclear what Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan's repeated public expression of his "frustration" with London for not setting out its Brexit stall is designed to achieve. The Taoiseach's line that the terms of the exit will be decided by prime ministers, though largely true, gives the appearance of underestimating the role of Frenchman Michel Barnier, who will lead the nuts and bolts part of the negotiations on behalf of the European Commission.

But while the current administration has not always got it right on Brexit, such challenges are one of things the Irish political-administrative system does well. They play to the strengths of the system, notably a capacity for teamwork and problem solving.

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