EU ministers ready for first phase of Brexit talks

Negotiating directives have been agreed upon

EU ministers ready for first phase of Brexit talks

File photo

The EU's General Affairs Council has completed preparations for the first phase of negotiations with Britain on its withdrawal from the European Union.

Minister of State for European Affairs, Dara Murphy, represented Ireland at the meeting in Brussels.

The council agreed a set of negotiating directives based on the guidelines adopted by the European Council on April 29th.

These provide a mandate to the European Commission to open negotiations with the UK.

In particular, the directives call for protecting the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process - including the need for flexible and imaginative solutions to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

They also want to address the situation of Irish citizens residing in Northern Ireland who will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, and the need to address issues arising from Ireland’s unique geographic situation.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Murphy said: "I am very happy with the negotiating directives agreed today, which confirm that a number of key EU and Irish concerns will be addressed during the first phase of the negotiations.

"The EU has been clear that its priority will be to achieve as much clarity and legal certainty as possible for businesses and citizens. This is an approach that the Ireland fully supports.

"They are fully in line with our approach to the priorities we share with other EU member states, including on citizens’ rights and the UK’s financial liabilities, as well as in relation to the challenges and issues that are unique to Ireland."

On May 2nd, the Irish Government published its own document on negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.