24. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he remains assured that all other EU member states support Ireland’s position in negotiations on Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11578/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018)
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Since the launch of the Article 50 negotiations last year, Ireland has received continued support from our EU partners on addressing the unique challenges for the island of Ireland posed by Brexit. This steadfast support and solidarity has been demonstrated through the adoption of the various EU negotiating positions which have consistently identified the need to address these unique challenges as a Union priority for the Brexit negotiations. This point was again highlighted recently at the General Affairs Council (Art. 50) of 27 February where I was once again impressed by the level of support expressed by the EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and all Member States around table for Ireland. All our EU partners share the need to ensure that the commitments and guarantees provided by the UK in phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations on protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process, including on avoiding a hard border, and on maintaining the Common Travel Area, must be given legal effect in the draft Withdrawal Agreement. Going forward, I and my officials will continue to set forward Ireland’s position in the negotiations at EU level through the General Affairs Council (Art. 50) and the relevant preparatory bodies as well as through bilateral contacts with the EU Taskforce and EU27 counterparts. My ongoing programme of bilateral engagement has, most recently, included my meetings with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and European Parliament Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt separately in Brussels on 26 February, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevièius of Lithuania on 13 February and Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano of Italy, on 14 February last.