On 29 January 2020, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., convened the Brexit Stakeholders Forum to discuss next steps in the Brexit process.
The Tánaiste briefed Forum members on recent developments and on expectations for how the next phase of Brexit will unfold, in the context of the UK’s imminent departure from the EU at 11pm on Friday, 31 January 2020. Noting that the UK’s exit will allow negotiations on the Future EU-UK Relationship to begin, the Tánaiste said,
“Two days from now, UK membership of the European Union will end. A transition period will be in place until 31 December 2020 – during this period, the UK will continue to follow EU rules and in return, it will be treated as if it is a Member State. This is hugely important in giving certainty to citizens and businesses that current arrangements will continue for the rest of 2020.
The focus now is on agreeing an EU-UK relationship for the future and to ensure effective implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The end of the transition period will inevitably involve significant changes, in particular for many of our businesses. The Government is continuing its work to make sure that Ireland is ready for all Brexit scenarios, and it is vital that all stakeholders remain engaged together on this work.”
When the UK has left the EU, negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship can formally begin. Together with our EU partners, Ireland will work for the closest, deepest and broadest possible relationship with the UK, based on a balance of rights and obligations.
The ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement means that the dedicated Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will be in place regardless of the outcome of the Future Relationship negotiations. The provisions of the Protocol are central to delivering Ireland’s consistent objectives of protecting the Good Friday Agreement, including avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland; and protecting the integrity of the Single Market and Customs Union and Ireland’s place in them.
Promoting Ireland’s interests throughout the Future Relationship negotiations, and implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol, alongside ongoing work on Brexit preparedness, will be important priorities in the period ahead.