Major Brexit related challenges lie ahead – Brendan Smith TD

roads pic on border

Below is a reply by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to a recent Parliamentary Question I tabled in Dáil Éireann regarding the British Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.

It is clear that many critical decisions that lie ahead will impact on all of this island.

For Written Answer on : 28/11/2018
Question Number(s): 118 Question Reference(s): 49832/18
Department: Foreign Affairs and Trade
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.



Question No. 118
Parliamentary Question – Oireachtas

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the outcome of the recent European Council meeting in relation to the British withdrawal agreement with the EU with particular reference to the need to ensure the free movement of persons, goods and services on the island of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

                                                                                                                                    – Brendan Smith.
* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 28th November, 2018.
Ref No: 49832/18 Proof: 98


The European Council (Article 50) on Sunday 25 November formally endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement, approved the Political Declaration on the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK, and thanked Michel Barnier for his efforts over the course of the negotiations.

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU.  The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which forms an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement, contains several commitments and assurances regarding the Good Friday Agreement, North-South cooperation and the all-island economy.

It also confirms that the UK and Ireland can continue to make arrangements between themselves in relation to the Common Travel Area, whereby Irish and British can live, work, study, and access healthcare, social security and public services in each other’s jurisdictions.

It ensures that there can be no re-emergence of a hard border on the island under any circumstances. Under the‘backstop’, should it be required after the period of transition, the UK and the EU will establish a single customs territory. This will involve no tariffs or quotas, and includes well established rules to ensure a level playing field. Northern Ireland would remain aligned to those rules of the Single Market that are indispensable to avoiding a hard border.

To facilitate this – and to ensure that there can be no unfair competitive advantage – the Agreement also provides that, if the backstop is invoked, rules to ensure a level playing field in areas such as environment, state aid, and labour standards will apply.

The Political Declaration which establishes the framework for the negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, makes clear the determination of both sides to achieve an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership. As part of this future relationship, it is also the intention of the UK and the EU to establish alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border on a permanent footing.

While the Withdrawal Agreement has been endorsed by the European Council, significant steps still need to be taken. The European Parliament must also provide its consent. The UK must ratify the Agreement according to its own constitutional arrangements.