The progress achieved between the UK and the EU in Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations is an important and vital development for border communities, deeply worried by the potentially disruptive impact of Brexit on their daily lives, Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has said.
On Friday the European Commission formally recommended to the European Council to conclude that “sufficient progress” has been made in the first phase of the Article 50 negotiations with the UK. The Council on 15 December 2017 will then make its formal conclusion on progress, enabling the negotiations to proceed to their second phase.
“The negotiations, while difficult, means there will be no hard border, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls,” Ms McGuinness said today.
“The UK has committed to ensuring there will be full alignment with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Good Friday Agreement,” she said.
With regard to the Good Friday Agreement she said: “I believe these tough negotiations brought about a better understanding of the Good Friday Agreement and what the peace process was all about.
“There is within it a power and depth that is informed by the principle of peoples working together – economically and socially – for their mutual interests – regardless of where they come from historically or culturally.
“I believe this must continue to resonate through the following stages of the negotiations. Ultimately in a globalised world neighbours have more to gain from working in close co-operation and reducing rather than creating barriers.”
Ms McGuinness said the strong support of all other EU countries for Ireland’s particular concerns about Brexit was important. “And it speaks to the success of Ireland’s all-encompassing Brexit strategy from the beginning, at all levels, national and EU.”
However the MEP cautioned that despite the success of Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations there is still a long way to go.
“Next year we will begin in earnest the discussions about the transition period and the framework of a future relationship between the EU and the UK.
As in phase one, these discussions will not be easy but if we keep in mind the importance of reaching a good deal for our citizens, then I believe progress can and indeed, must be made.
“These months of negotiations in phase one have resulted in a full understanding of what being part of the EU means and why withdrawing from it is not straightforward- impacting as it does on all aspects of life and business.
“We cannot let up until the final deal is signed, sealed and delivered,” she said.
On Wednesday (13th December) the European Parliament will hold a plenary debate and vote on a resolution on Phase one of negotiations.
The European Parliament will have to ratify the final Brexit deal when agreement is reached.