Peadar Carpenter, the Irish ambassador to Luxembourg, writes that unity among the EU27 will be crucial to a positive outcome on Brexit.
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The Irish ambassador to Luxembourg wants free and fair trade with the UK after Brexit
The Irish ambassador to Luxembourg, Peadar Carpenter, argues in this exclusive open letter that a future trade relationship with the UK should be “as free and fair as possible”.
Ireland welcomes that the EU-UK negotiations are now moving into their second phase. This follows the decision of the European Council last December that sufficient progress had been made on the withdrawal issues, namely citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the unique issues relating to Ireland.
We believe that the positive results achieved by Michel Barnier and the EU Taskforce during phase 1 of the negotiations are a strong reflection of the unity and cohesion of the EU27 member states.
Ireland is also particularly grateful for the support and solidarity demonstrated by Luxembourg and all of our EU partners with regard to the unique challenges that Brexit poses for Ireland. Foreign minister Asselborn’s visit to the border region last May was a very concrete example of this support, which was also clearly articulated by Jean-Claude Juncker following his meeting with prime minister May on 8 December, when he stated that “all of the EU27 stand firmly behind Ireland and behind the peace process”.
Looking forward, an important focus in the coming weeks and months will be on completing work on the withdrawal issues and to start drafting the relevant parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. This is a very important next step as the Withdrawal Agreement will be legally binding and will reflect the principles and commitments agreed in phase one.
Ireland also welcomes that the issue of transitional arrangements, which will be crucial in providing certainty to individuals and businesses, will be an early priority during this phase of the negotiations. We strongly support the approach proposed by the European Council, whereby the whole of the EU acquis will apply during the transition. This means that the status quo will be preserved with the aim of avoiding any gaps or cliff edge effects between the UK leaving the EU and when a future relationship agreement enters into force.
In parallel, it has been agreed to intensify work to enable the start of the discussions on the framework for a future EU-UK relationship. This is hugely important for Ireland as indeed it is for other EU partners, including Luxembourg. It is in discussing this framework that we can begin to address the very serious concerns of many of our businesses and sectors.
We welcome that the European Council guidelines reaffirm the EU’s desire to establish a close partnership with the UK. This reflects Ireland’s view that any EU-UK future relationship agreement should be comprehensive and ambitious and as wide as possible in its scope. Our aim should be to keep trade between the EU and the UK as free and fair as possible, in a manner that ensures that the integrity of the Single Market is protected.
As well as the important issues around trade, the EU-UK future relationship should also entail continued strong cooperation in a range of other areas such as combatting terrorism and international crime, research, fisheries, the mutual recognition of qualifications, and civil aviation, to mention just a few.
There is no doubt that this phase of the negotiations will be intensive and challenging. However, by continuing to work together and speak with one voice, I have no doubt that the EU27 can achieve a positive outcome!