‘Ireland’s unique concerns are clearly seen as EU concerns’ – Creed

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has welcomed statements from the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, that the EU will stand in solidarity with Ireland on the Brexit border issue.

Addressing the media after meeting Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, yesterday evening, Tusk openly stated that the EU fully backs the Irish request that there should be no ‘hard’ border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

Responding to the comments, Minister Creed told AgriLand that: “The government is now firmly focused on ensuring that risks posed by potential regulatory divergence from the rules of the internal market, and the customs union, are avoided.

From an agri-food perspective that is obviously crucial. To that end, I welcome Donald Tusk’s reassertion of the EU’s stance. Ireland’s unique concerns are clearly seen as EU concerns.

During yesterday’s Brexit talks between the Taoiseach and Tusk in Dublin, there was a special focus on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In his address to the Irish media, Tusk said: “I came to Dublin to reassure the Taoiseach and all the Irish people that the EU is fully behind you and your request that there should be no ‘hard’ border on the island of Ireland after Brexit; the Irish request is the EU’s request.

“Or as the Irish proverb goes: ‘Ni neart go cur le cheile’ (There is no strength without unity).

“The UK’s decision to leave the EU has created uncertainty for millions of people in Europe. Perhaps nowhere is this more visible than here.

“The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is no longer a symbol of division, it is a symbol of cooperation; and we cannot allow Brexit to destroy this achievement of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is the UK that started Brexit; and now it is their responsibility to propose a credible commitment to do what is necessary to avoid a ‘hard’ border.

“It is clear that we cannot reach a full agreement on every single detail at this stage, especially that the final outcome will be linked to the future relations between the EU as a whole and the UK.”

Final offer

The president of the European Council reminded those in attendance that he has asked the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to put a final offer on the table by Monday, December 4, so that it can be assessed whether sufficient progress can be made at the upcoming European Council in mid-December.

Continuing, Tusk said: “We have agreed today that before proposing guidelines on transition and future relations to the leaders, I will consult the Taoiseach if the UK’s offer is sufficient for the Irish government.

Let me say very clearly: if the UK’s offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU. I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand.

“But such is the logic behind the fact that Ireland is an EU member while the UK is leaving. This is why the key to the UK’s future lies – in some ways – in Dublin, at least as long as Brexit negotiations continue,” Tusk concluded.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Varadkar welcomed the solidarity from all of Ireland’s EU partners from the EU institutions and also from the other members states, who have “taken Ireland’s unique concerns to heart”.