Published on Tuesday20thJune2017

Minister Coveney meets with EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier

20170620 Coveney Barnier

Pictured are Foreign Affairs & Trade Minister Simon Coveney and EU Chief Brexit Negotiator, M. Michel Barnier

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney met this afternoon in Luxembourg with the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier.  

Mr Barnier gave Minister Coveney a read-out of yesterday’s opening Brexit negotiations with the UK, while Minister Coveney updated on the latest developments in Northern Ireland, following his meetings with the parties in Stormont yesterday.  

Speaking after their meeting, Minister Coveney said:  

It is clear from our discussions today, as it was from comments at the joint press conference yesterday with David Davis, UK Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, that Ireland remains a key EU priority in the Brexit negotiations.  

For the EU27’s part, we have set out our position plainly and in this position there is a strong acknowledgment of Ireland's unique concerns and priorities, including on: protecting both the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process; avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and; maintaining the Common Travel Area.  

In short, there is no doubt that Ireland’s interests are the EU’s interests.  

From Ireland’s perspective, I emphasised to Michel that it is important in this first phase of the negotiations that sufficient progress is made on our issues, together with the issues of citizens' rights and the UK's financial liabilities.  

We also agreed that once this sufficient progress is made, we should move as quickly as possible to begin discussions on the framework of the future relationship between the EU and the UK, including on trade.  

Minister Coveney also used the opportunity of today's attendance at the GAC to hold a number of bilateral meetings with his EU colleagues, including Ministers from Luxembourg, Estonia and the UK to discuss Ireland's Brexit priorities as well as other EU issues.