20/01/2017

Ireland Prepared For Brexit And Committed To EU - Flanagan

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, has addressed a meeting of the EU Diplomatic Corps held today at Iveagh House.

His address to ambassadors is understood to have touched on the broad range of foreign policy challenges facing the European Union, but there was a strong focus on Brexit and preparations for the Article 50 negotiations.

Minister Flanagan set the Irish priorities for the upcoming negotiations: the Irish economy and trade, Northern Ireland and border issues, the Common Travel Area and the future of the EU itself. He also emphasised the extent of Ireland's preparedness, which he said began two years ago.

Speaking about the upcoming negotiations between the EU and the UK, Minister Flanagan said: "Process is important. But attitudes and atmosphere are more important. I welcome the Prime Minister's assurance that the UK wishes to have a close and friendly relationship with the Union, and wants an orderly process.

"If the UK takes a constructive and pragmatic approach in setting its goals and conducting the negotiations it should be met with a similar approach from the EU side. It is manifestly in the interests of both the EU and the UK that Brexit be managed sensibly, and that the future relationship between us be close and mutually beneficial."

Minister Flanagan also stressed Ireland's readiness for the negotiations ahead, while underlining Ireland's strong commitment to the EU, stating: "Ireland is fully committed to the European Union. It should not be necessary to say this. But in recent times some commentators have argued that we should consider following the British example. 

"Debate is always healthy and there can be no taboos. But the arguments we have heard are flimsy and misconceived... The Irish economy depends enormously on our membership of the Single Market and of the Customs Union.

"The consequence of leaving the European Union would inevitably be a return to a greater dependence on the UK and, effectively, a return to the sterling area – without any of the input we have around the European table. 

"This would reverse the trend of the past forty years and the great strides we have made in diversifying our economic and political relationships. It would surely be politically inconceivable in a period when we are marking the centenary of our passage to independence."

(MH/JP)

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