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Minister Simon Coveney welcomes update on EU-UK talks on NI Protocol

Minister Simon Coveney welcomes update on EU-UK talks on Northern Ireland Protocol and guarantees on supply of medicines to NI

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, T.D., and Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, T.D., welcomed the update today by the EU and the UK on the ongoing talks on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

On talks on the implementation of the Protocol, Minister Coveney said:

“I firmly believe the Protocol will work, if we allow it, with flexibility and pragmatism. A positive outcome to the current talks remains our key objective. I welcome the fact that the EU and the UK have agreed on the importance of continuing talks in the New Year. This is the best way to bring about substantive progress and find durable solutions to the practical problems faced by people and business in Northern Ireland.”

“Brexit has been one of the dominant issues on my agenda this year and I spent a lot of time listening to stakeholders in Northern Ireland in order to understand the genuine challenges they face. Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic has done likewise. Ireland continues to strongly support his solution-driven approach.

"Reaching an agreed approach on the Protocol would be an important factor in allowing us all to turn a page and open up a new chapter of positive forward-looking partnership between the EU and the UK. It would of course strengthen our British-Irish relationship in the years to come.

"I will continue to encourage all parties to prioritise constructive engagement in pursuit of flexible and practical outcomes for people and businesses in Northern Ireland."

Speaking following the announcement today by the European Commission of plans to ensure security of supply of medicines, Minister Coveney said:

“Access to medicines has been at the top of my agenda. The plan announced today turns commitment into solutions. By ensuring the continued long-term supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and in addressing other supply issues for Ireland, it provides reassurance to people across the island that they will continue to have access to the medicines they need.

"I hope that this solution on medicines can act as a catalyst for solving the other Protocol issues early in the new year.”

Minister Byrne said:

"Given the family, business and cultural links between our two countries, hardly any area of Irish life has been unaffected by the UK’s departure from the Union. The transition has been challenging, particularly for Irish businesses who have had to make significant changes to their operations and supply chains. However, in a testing time we have shown ourselves to be remarkably resilient and adaptable.

"Brexit will continue to have an impact on this island and the Government remains committed to supporting businesses and working with all stakeholders as the consequences of the UK’s departure continue to be felt.

"The EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement, agreed at the end of last year, provides not just for free trade and continued cooperation in areas such as energy, fisheries and policing, but also contains as yet untapped potential for future cooperation between the EU and the UK. It is my hope that an agreed approach on the Protocol will pave the way for even greater cooperation and partnership between the EU and the UK next year.

"As we continue to manage the out-workings of Brexit, solidarity with Ireland remains a hallmark of the EU approach. I have seen this at first hand in my engagements across Europe. Partnership and solidarity with EU Member States is our greatest strength when dealing with any challenges that we face. The EU’s continued support for the island of Ireland through the PEACE PLUS programme and the Brexit Adjustment Reserve are concrete examples of that solidarity in action.”

ENDS

Press Office

17 December 2021

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