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Simon Coveney to meet Michel Barnier in Brussels to discuss 'challenging' Brexit developments

Coveney has said the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has Ireland’s full support.
Sep 22nd 2020, 8:24 AM 15,669 16

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN Affairs Simon Coveney is set to meet with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels today.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Coveney said the EU-UK Brexit negotiations have been challenging in recent weeks but that the EU has Ireland’s full support.

The remark comes amid recent controversy over the UK Government’s bid to use domestic legislation to override elements of the Brexit divorce deal, in particular the Northern Ireland protocol on post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Coveney explained that he and Barnier will discuss the current state of play on Brexit when they meet today, and that Barnier will update him on the most important issues relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

“The last few weeks have been challenging – Michel and his team have our full confidence and support as we find a way forward,” he said.

Under the protocol, Northern Ireland will remain in the EU single market for goods and administer the EU’s customs code at its ports.

However, the UK Internal Market Bill seeks to override elements of the protocol’s operation, including around the application of EU state aid rules in Northern Ireland and on the requirement for exit summary declarations for goods moving to Great Britain.

The laws, if enacted, are designed for use if a wider trade deal with the EU and UK does not materialise.

Coveney and European Affairs minister Thomas Byrne are due to exchange views with their counterparts on the current EU-UK negotiations at a meeting of ministers for European affairs.

Byrne said he was looking forward to engaging with his EU colleagues in the General Affairs Council (GAC).

“During my time in Brussels, I will also take the opportunity to meet individually with a number of my EU ministerial colleagues,” he said.

“We will discuss the many important issues on the GAC agenda, including Brexit, the next EU budget and the rule of law in our union.”

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