Two days of intensive discussion focusing on the impact of Brexit on the north west region begin tomorrow in Brussels, as concerns deepen about the lack of reality around the UK’s negotiating position, which unless it is altered has the potential to impact negatively on the situation in Ireland, Mairead McGuinness, MEP for Midlands North West and first Vice-President of the European Parliament said today (Sunday).
Speaking ahead of a two-day programme of visits she has organised in Brussels for the CEOs of Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council, including with the European Commission Article 50 Taskforce (*), the MEP said:
“Aspirations, regardless of how often they are repeated, won’t be enough without firm actions to deliver on political commitments made by the UK and the EU when it comes to the border issue.
“The UK’s determination to leave the single market and the customs union does not sit with the commitment not to return to the border of the past,” she said.
“Last week Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator, rightly pointed out that the UK could not have “frictionless” trade with the EU if it left the single market and the customs union.”
“Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council are to be commended for their work in highlighting the key issues for those who live, work and visit the North West region across trade, retail, commuting, tourism and access to public services recognising that the area is disproportionately sensitive to the effects of Brexit.
“The series of Brussels meetings over the next two days, including with the Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Chair of the largest political group in the Parliament, the EPP‘s Manfred Weber, is intended to both inform them of what is happening in the negotiations to date and to take on board the very real concerns both Councils have about Brexit and the immediate uncertainty it is causing and the potential for real long term damage across trade, community impact, peace and security,” she said.
“The meetings this week are a vital part of the process to build understanding of what Brexit really means for people and I look forward to welcoming the delegation to Parliament this week.”
And she said the European Parliament will have a critical role in agreeing the shape of the final deal to emerge between the UK and the EU.
Ms McGuinness recently led a group of influential Members of the European Parliament on a programme of visits and meetings with business, farming and community groups on both sides of the border to give them first-hand knowledge of the particular challenges that Brexit poses for Ireland, North and South.
(*) Article 50 gives any EU member state the right to cease membership and it outlines the procedure for doing so. It gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal and once it’s set in motion it cannot be stopped except by unanimous consent of all member states.