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Taoiseach visits Brussels as part of programme of strategic Brexit engagement

20170302 Taoiseach Donald Tusk

Taoiseach meets with EU Council President Donald Tusk

The Taoiseach will visit Brussels today, Thursday 2 March, as part of the Government's ongoing programme of strategic engagement with EU partners and the EU institutions in relation to Brexit in advance of the UK triggering Article 50, which is expected later this month.

The Taoiseach will hold a series of meetings with representatives of the EU institutions. Each of the institutions - the European Council, the European Commission, and the European Parliament - will have an important role to play in the negotiations process ahead, and at each of the meetings the Taoiseach will discuss our approach to the negotiations, with a view to ensuring that they are focused, pragmatic and constructive.

This visit follows an earlier visit to Brussels last week, when he met with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel.

In the morning, the Taoiseach will meet with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who will chair the meetings that will approve the negotiating guidelines and mandate, and will oversee the negotiations. He will then meet with Antonio Tajani, the recently elected President of the European Parliament, which will discuss and eventually be asked to approve the exit agreement. And he will meet with the Head of the Commission Brexit Task Force, Michel Barnier, who will lead the detailed negotiations under the close supervision of the European Council.

Watch a live stream of the Press Conference with An Taoiseach and President Tajani below:

The Taoiseach will also visit the European Parliament, where he will meet with Irish and other MEPs to discuss their work in relation to the upcoming negotiations and, more generally, in the framework of EU legislation.

In all of these meetings, the Taoiseach will highlight and explain Ireland's particular concerns arising from Brexit in relation to Northern Ireland and the Peace Process; the Common Travel Area; border and citizenship issues; our trade and economy; and the future direction of the EU, and will discuss a number of strategic issues relating to the negotiations process.

Speaking ahead of the visit the Taoiseach said:

This visit is part of the Government's intensive activity in preparation for Brexit. Last week I met with Commission President Junker, as well as Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, and tomorrow will hold detailed discussions with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Parliament, as well as Michel Barnier and some key MEPs. This engagement is part of our work to ensure that our concerns are properly understood by partners throughout the Union, and that we are, to the greatest extent possible, prepared for the Brexit negotiations once the British Prime Minister triggers Article 50, which is expected later this month.