European Union official pledges full support for Ireland's Brexit talks

Geneva Matthews
May 12, 2017

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator sought Thursday to ease tensions between the bloc and Britain, saying a deal was possible if the talks were conducted without "aggressivity".

But underlying the significance of the upcoming Brexit negotiations, the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl on behalf of the Oireachtas issued an invitation to Mr Barnier to address both houses.

There is no reason why the European Union can not have a "strong relationship" with the United Kingdom after it leaves the bloc but Brexit will inevitably have consequences, Michel Barnier has told the Oireachtas.

Earlier: The EU's chief Brexit negotiator arrives in Ireland today.

Barnier, who praised Ireland's "remarkable preparatory work" on Brexit and quoted Nobel Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney to lawmakers, warned that Brexit will come at a cost to all members and that customs controls are part of the EU's border management to protect the single market.

The Financial Times reports that Barnier will be treated to "the trappings of a visiting head of state" when he visits Dublin on Thursday.

Such an opportunity has previously been afforded to the likes of Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

The Prime Minister has accused European Union politicians and officials of trying to influence the outcome of the 8 June election.

Mr Fearon added: "The coming months are going to be critical for Ireland and the future of our economy; these talks will set in stone for many years the trading relations between and across this island".

Nearly twice as much time has been set aside for TDs to speak as has been allocated to Mr Barnier.

"Ireland's interests are the EU's."

Barnier said returning to the "instability of the past" would be avoided and acknowledged that Ireland was in a "unique position" regarding the negotiations.

"We have to use our combined strength", he said, "and deliver solutions that benefit all member-states".

"Tailored Irish provisions will need to cover free movement of people, but also the massive trade exposure of key sectors and the potential impact on highly integrated cross-border supply chains".

'We need the same ambition in global co-operation and development'.

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