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Tánaiste and MoS McEntee attend GAC

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., and the Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee T.D., are in Brussels today for meetings with their counterparts on Brexit and the General Affairs Council.


Ahead of the informal meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg on Thursday, the General Affairs Council meeting in EU27 format will hear from the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, on the current state of play in the Brexit negotiations. The Tánaiste will also meet separately with Michel Barnier to discuss negotiations on the draft Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, including the backstop on avoiding a hard border.


Before departing for Brussels, the Tánaiste said:


“I look forward to discussing with my EU colleagues and Michel Barnier the current state of play in the Brexit negotiations, including on the backstop for avoiding a hard border. It is another opportunity to thank our EU partners for their solid support and solidarity.


I will be making very clear our continued strong support for Michel Barnier, welcoming his approach on efforts to de-dramatise the backstop aimed at agreeing the text of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. Time is short and it is important that the UK delivers on its commitments and engages constructively with the EU’s proposed backstop. The EU has been clear that without an agreement on a backstop, there cannot be an agreement on the Withdrawal Agreement”.


The General Affairs Council will focus on the ongoing negotiations on the multi-annual financial framework, the budget for the European Union from 2021 to 2027.  Minister McEntee and her colleagues will discuss the policy orientation of the budget and the allocations proposed by the European Commission for various policies.


Ahead of the meeting the Minister of State said:


“My key message is that support for the Common Agricultural Policy and Cohesion must continue, while finding a way to fund new emerging priorities such as migration, the digital agenda and combatting climate change.”


The General Affairs Council will also include another hearing on whether changes to the Supreme Court and the judiciary in Poland present a clear risk there of a breach of the Union’s values, namely the rule of law.


The meeting will also prepare the agenda for next month’s European Council where migration is expected to feature prominently on the agenda.  Ireland is one of a number of Member States working to find a consensus on the issue based on a balance of responsibility and solidarity with due respect for international law.