Simon Coveney: Longer Brexit transition period 'makes sense'

The Foreign Affairs Minister has called for a five-year transition to allow the UK withdraw from the EU

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Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

14:07 7 Nov 2017 Stephen McNeice 14:07 Tuesday 7 November 2017

The Foreign Affairs Minister has suggested that a five-year Brexit transition period is needed to allow the UK to smoothly leave the EU.

Simon Coveney's proposal is more than twice as long as the British Prime Minister wants

Theresa May has indicated that it will take just two years to ease their way out of the European Union after March 2019.

Minister Coveney, however, believes more time is necessary.

Speaking to Jonathan Healy on the Pat Kenny Show, he explained: "I think that having a longer transition period makes sense - it gives everybody some time to adjust, and it allows politicians to figure out the detail of what the new relationship is going to look like.

"With us, for example, that's in terms of peace process issues, in terms of the Good Friday Agreement, in terms of the border issues on the island of Ireland. These are very complex issues to manage."

He added: "The idea that these things would be rushed to somehow suit the electoral cycle in Britain, or for some other reason, for me is not the primary concern here. The primary concern is to make sure the relationship between Ireland & Britain remains strong, and the relationship between the EU & the UK also remains manageable, positive and strong."

Minister Coveney noted that Ireland is not negotiating directly with the UK, with negotiations being coordinated through the EU's Taskforce on Article 50 negotiations.

He stressed that 'phase two' of the talks - on the future relationship between the UK and EU - cannot begin until there's significant progress on key 'divorce' issues such as the Irish border.

Minister Coveney told Jonathan: "By this time next year, we will need to have a pretty clear picture as to what it's all going to look like in some sort of framework agreement. But it's then going to take, in my view, quite a number of years to work out the detail of all of that."

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He expects a transitional period to be agreed early next year