North-west council reps in Brussels to discuss Brexit

Two days of talks will kick-off in Brussels today, July 10, to deal with the impact of Brexit on the north-west region of Ireland, according to MEP for the region, Mairead McGuinness.

This comes after further European concerns arose in relation to the “lack of reality around the UK’s negotiating position, which unless altered, has the potential to impact negatively on the situation in Ireland”.

McGuinness was speaking yesterday ahead of a two-day programme of visits, which have been organised for the CEOs of Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council. This will include a meeting with the European Commission Article 50 Taskforce.

Starting off, McGuinness said: “Aspirations, regardless of how often they are repeated, won’t be enough without firm actions to deliver on political commitments made by the UK and the EU when it comes to the border issue.

The UK’s determination to leave the single market and the customs union does not sit with the commitment not to return to the border of the past.

“Last week, Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator, rightly pointed out that the UK could not have ‘frictionless’ trade with the EU if it left the single market and the customs union.

“Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council are to be commended for their work in highlighting the key issues for those who live, work and visit the north-west region across trade, retail, commuting, tourism and access to public services, recognising that the area is disproportionately sensitive to the effects of Brexit.”

The talks will include a meeting with the Constitutional Affairs Committee and Manfred Weber – the Chair of the European People’s Party, which is the largest political group in the European Parliament.

“[This] is intended to both inform them of what is happening in the negotiations to date and to take on board the very real concerns both councils have about Brexit, the immediate uncertainty it is causing and the potential for real long-term damage across trade, community impact, peace and security,” McGuinness said.

The meetings this week are a vital part of the process to build understanding of what Brexit really means for people and I look forward to welcoming the delegation to parliament this week.

She added that the European Parliament will have a crucial role in determining the shape of the final deal between the EU and the UK.

In recent weeks, McGuinness has led a group of MEPs on a series of visits and meetings with farming, business and community groups on both sides of the border to give them first-hand understanding of the particular challenges that Brexit poses for the island of Ireland.