‘EU and Ireland have to work together to minimise Brexit impact for Irish citizens’

During the Brexit negotiations, the EU and Ireland must work together to minimise the impact of Brexit on Irish citizens, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said.

President Juncker was speaking in Brussels today following a meeting with the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

“We have to put certainty where there is now uncertainty.

“I want to reassure everyone in Ireland that the European Commission and the Irish Government will work closely together during the process of the Brexit negotiations.”

We don’t want to have a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Juncker said that the Commission doesn’t want to put the Good Friday Agreement at risk during the negotiations and that the Commission wants land borders as open as possible.

“The Irish challenges in this context are not only Irish challenges, they are European challenges.”

Jucker said that he and the Taoiseach were discussing in detail the issues related to Brexit, not only the Irish-specific issues but the more generally European issues.

“We asked the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, to join our meeting and his presence was very helpful.

“I’m always saying that Ireland, since day one of its membership, was behaving like a founding member [of the EU]. That’s interested to be noted because some of our founding members are no longer behaving as [such].”

We are happy to have our Irish friends with us when it comes to substance.

Earlier today, the Taoiseach met with the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel where he highlighted Ireland’s particular concerns arising from Brexit.

These concerns included Northern Ireland and the Peace Process, the Common Travel Area, Ireland’s trade and economy, and the future of the EU itself.

He also attended a high-level business event organised by the Ireland-Belgium Business Association, with the support of Enterprise Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland, where he met with a number of key business contacts.

There he outlined Ireland’s strong commitment to EU membership, Ireland’s approach to Brexit negotiations and Ireland’s determination to intensify our focus on Belgium as a key Irish export market.