Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD, and Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee TD, are in Brussels today, Monday November 12, for meetings with their counterparts at the General Affairs Council.
They will first attend the GAC on the UK’s exit from the EU. There will also be a bilateral meeting with the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier. Speaking on his departure to Brussels, the Tánaiste said: “I am looking forward to discussing the state of play in the Brexit negotiations with our EU partners and our negotiator Michel Barnier. Negotiations are at a very critical and sensitive stage. Clear and focused thinking is now required if a satisfactory agreement is to be reached. We want an agreement to be reached as soon as possible but urgency is required.
“The EU and Ireland’s position remains clear and consistent. The Withdrawal Agreement must include a legally operable backstop for avoiding a hard border that must be in place unless another solution is found. Any review mechanism must be in line with this. All sides agree that this is essential in order to protect the Good Friday Agreement and our peace process.”
General Affairs Council
At the General Affairs Council, ministers will be updated on the state of play concerning rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary. The Council will then discuss preparations for the European Council meeting on December 13 to 14 and will also hold a policy debate on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021 to 2027.
Ahead of the meeting the Minister of State said: “The scale and complexity of the EU Budget means that the MFF negotiations will take time and effort. We are grateful to the Austrian Presidency for their work so far. We believe that the traditional priorities of CAP and Cohesion are core to the future of the EU. Funding for these must be maintained, along with funding for newer priorities, such as migration and climate action.”
The Council will have its annual rule of law dialogue, focusing on ‘Trust in public institutions and the rule of law’. The meeting will also include a presentation by the European Commission of its 2019 work programme, as well as its subsidiarity package. The meeting will close with a presentation by the Austrian Presidency and the incoming Presidency on the roadmap for the European Semester in 2019.