Brexit bulletin, 21 July 2017

Jul 20, 2017

Brexit bulletin, 21 July 2017

This week saw the second round of negotiations between the EU and UK complete with divergence emerging over citizen’s rights and the EU calling for more clarification from the UK.  In other developments, Minister Paschal Donohue has invited the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond for talks in Ireland and Minster Simon Coveney tells the EU that Ireland “cannot and will not” accept a hard border.

Round two of Brexit negotiations complete but fail to produce a break-through

The second round of discussions between UK and EU officials concluded in Brussels yesterday where positions on the financial settlement, citizen’s rights and Ireland were presented by both sides in order to identify the points where there is agreement and issues where there is disagreement.

At a press conference which marked the end of the second round of talks, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that “fundamental divergence” over citizen’s rights existed and called for “clarification” on the UK’s position on Ireland, the financial settlement and other matters.  UK Brexit Secretary David Davis had an optimistic tone saying he was “encouraged by the progress we have made on understanding each other’s positions”.

Mr Barnier stated that while there had been some areas of agreement about how Britons living abroad and EU nationals living in the UK should be treated after Brexit, he insisted that the European Court of Justice should be the guarantor of the rights of citizens living abroad. He said “Citizens must be able to identify the legal certainty that they need for their day-to-day lives.”

On the financial settlement, there is acceptance by the UK that they will have to pay a financial bill but there was no agreement or a sign that the UK is willing to compromise. On this matter, David Davis said that that the “talks were robust”.  The EU is unlikely to need an exact price in order to advance talks; rather it needs to have made sufficient progress on reaching an agreement with the final bill perhaps emerging in late 2018.

On Ireland, Mr Barnier said that the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area dimensions needed further detailed discussion but that both sides want to preserve the benefits of both.   The EU called on the UK to clarify how it would maintain the Common Travel Area post Brexit and that there must be a “flexible and imaginative” solution to the border.  Specific issues surrounding the border were not part of the second round negotiations.  Minister Simon Coveney, who has special Brexit responsibilities for Ireland, said that he was “satisfied with the direction of the discussions.”

Three more rounds of talks are scheduled to take place in August, September and October before an EU summit in late October when the EU will decide whether there has been sufficient progress on the issues of citizen’s rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border.   Only then can the talks turn to the future trading relationship with the UK.

The second round of talks might have failed to produce a break-through on the key areas but with round three of the negotiations taking the theme of ‘clarification’ the general feeling might well be that this is necessary given the ticking clock.  

ROI Minister for Finance meets UK Chancellor

Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform  Paschal Donohue met UK Chancellor Philip Hammond last week in London to discuss Ireland’s position on Brexit among other economic matters.  Top of the Brexit agenda was the impact of a hard border for both countries, along with the need for stability during the Brexit process.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Donohue said it was “a very positive meeting” where they acknowledged that both countries shared a mutual interest to ensure that a strong trading relationship is maintained between the UK and the EU.   The Finance Minister reportedly invited Mr Hammond to Ireland to continue talks on Brexit in the autumn. 

It’s understood that Mr Donohoe will take part in a series of meetings with European politicians over the next few weeks to highlight Irish concerns over Brexit.

Brexit shorts

  • According to a CSO report, exports to UK from Ireland increased by €154 million in May 2017 compared to May 2016 figures, with imports increasing by €266 million
  • EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier met Minister Frances Fitzgerald in Brussels to discuss Ireland’s trade concerns
  • Minister Simon Coveney tells EU counterparts that Ireland “cannot and will not” accept a hard border
  • According to a UK parliamentary report, Northern Ireland will be “profoundly affected by Brexit” with the Brexit debate undermining “political stability”
  • Reuters report that the United States and the UK will begin exploring a trade deal on Monday

Read all of our Brexit updates on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.