Second phase of Brexit could happen by the end of the year

Charlie Flanagan says the UK should honour its financial commitments

Second phase of Brexit could happen by the end of the year

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan speaking to the media at a Brexit Conference in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin | Image:

The second phase of Brexit talks could happen as early as the end of this year.

During a keynote address, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan set out Ireland's preparations and general approach to the forthcoming negotiations.

"Choose whatever metaphor suits you best, I will stick to a sporting one: in this game of two halves I would say we have had a solid first 15 minutes behind us which gives us much to build on going forward. And move forward we will," he told the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin.

The EU's General Affairs Council signed off on the final details of Article 50 negotiations on Monday.

Mr Flanagan said:"We have a clear idea of how the process will work - led by Mr Barnier, under the political oversight of the European Council - and an equally clear understanding of the three areas of focus: citizens' rights, the UK's financial settlement and the border issue on the island of Ireland.

"So far so good."

On the issue of citizens' right, he said: "There is clearly political good will on both sides to find solutions.

"But the detail will be complicated - this basket straddles many important issues in the area of residency rights, working rights, not to mention aspects of access to healthcare and education.

"That said, I believe that an early agreement in principle on the reciprocal protection of citizens’ rights is achievable and must be a priority."

'UK should honour financial commitments'

Mr Flanagan continued: "On the financial settlement question, the detail is no less tricky.

"I don't view it as helpful to remark on the commentary in the media - and let’s not forget that there is a general election campaign underway across the water - but I will say this: the British government has always accepted that they will need to honour certain obligations and liabilities as a departing member state as part of their exit arrangements.

"This is a matter of public record. This is not about punishing the UK or issuing a 'bill' for leaving. It is very simply a legitimate expectation on the part of the EU that the UK should honour any financial commitments that it has already entered into."

Minister Flanagan says the second phase of talks may not be far behind, provided everything goes to plan.

"I think we should remain hopeful that with pragmatism and good will on both sides, we shall see sufficient progress across the Article 50 baskets in the weeks and months ahead which would allow the European Council to decide to move to this second phase where the detailed negotiations on the withdrawal agreement can be taken in parallel with discussions on scoping out the framework for the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

"All going well, this could happen as early as the end of this year.

"It will come as no surprise to anyone in this room that the future EU-UK relationship is of enormous concern and interest to the Government."