‘No return to the hard border’
Theresa May’s letter to trigger Article 50 states that she does not want Brexit to “harm” the Republic of Ireland. The British Prime Minister has included a note on what she sees as the UK’s “special relationship” with Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“The Republic of Ireland is the only EU member state with a land border with the United Kingdom.
“We want to avoid a return to a hard border between our two countries, to be able to maintain the Common Travel Area between us, and to make sure that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU does not harm the Republic of Ireland,” she wrote.
“We also have an important responsibility to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to continue to uphold the Belfast Agreement.”
The Irish Government has issued a statement responding to the formal initiation of Brexit, saying: “It has been clear from the start that the UK’s departure from the Union will have significant economic, political and social implications for Ireland.”
The Government says it regrets the UK decision but highlight the fact that while Article 50 has been triggered, the UK remains a member of the EU until negotiations are completed. “In the meantime, nothing will change, including the UK’s obligations towards the citizens and businesses of other Member States,” the statement says.
“While the Article 50 exit negotiations should also involve discussion of the future relationship between the EU and the UK, the many important issues involved are unlikely to be resolved for a considerable time.”
The Government said it has been “working very hard for more than two years” to engage with all sectors across the island of Ireland, to fully analyse our main areas of concern and to develop our negotiating priorities.
The Irish priorities are to minimise the impact on our trade and the economy; to protect the Northern Ireland Peace Process, including through maintaining an open border; to continue the Common Travel Area with the UK; and to work for a positive future for the European Union.
“We note that our particular concerns, including in relation to the Good Friday Agreement, have been acknowledged by Prime Minister May in her letter.” A consolidated paper providing more detail of the Irish priorities and approach to the negotiations will be published before a meeting of the European Council on April 29.