Cookies on the DFA website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site while also complying with Data Protection requirements. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.

General FAQs

What is the Government’s plan for Brexit?

The Government is determined that all possible preparations are made ahead of the UK leaving the EU. We are focused on protecting and advancing Ireland’s interest at every turn.

The Government isn’t under any illusions about the complexity of challenges presented by Brexit, and our comprehensive response to the potential impacts of Brexit is continuing. Detailed work is underway across all Government Department’s to prepare for the UK’s exit. This includes contingency planning for all possible scenarios.

The Government in May 2017 published a comprehensive document on Ireland and the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

This document reflects the findings and outcomes of the extensive preparatory work and consultations undertaken and demonstrates how these were brought to bear in Ireland’s approach to the negotiations.

All Departments and Agencies have been charged with making Brexit a priority. Brexit has been their priority since before the UK vote in June 2016 and we continue to plan accordingly. There is strong co-ordination on this at key levels across Government, and we will continue our coordinated efforts for the duration of the negotiations and beyond.


Our Brexit planning comprises:

Analysis & prioritisation

Pre-vote contingency planning has been developed into deeper analysis, across all key issues and sectors. As part of this work, a series of research analyses have been commissioned. Read all publicly available reports.

Ireland welcomed the decision of the European Council on 15 December 2017 that sufficient progress has been made in Phase One of the Article 50 negotiations. This was a very significant step, not least because the move to start discussions on the framework for a future relationship is hugely significant for Ireland given the unique circumstances on island of Ireland and the importance of our economic relationship with the UK.

Ireland has secured concrete commitments on the maintenance of the Common Travel Area, on the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and on protecting the gains of the peace process. We have also secured clear and strong commitments to avoid a hard border and on how this will be achieved. Key commitments also made on EU citizens’ rights and on the financial settlement.

Importantly, the European Council was clear that negotiations in Phase Two can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken in Phase One are respected in full and translated into legal terms as quickly as possible.

Our focus at this point in the negotiations is now on advancing work in three distinct areas:

  • The Withdrawal Agreement
  • Transitional Arrangements
  • The framework for a future EU-UK relationship

Consultation & Domestic Response


The Irish Government has undertaken a number of different types of consultations regarding Brexit.

These include:

  • The All-Island Civic Dialogue is a series of meetings held by Ministers to hear directly about the all-island implications of Brexit, from a variety of stakeholders from across a wide range of sectors. As of February 2018, this process has so far included 20 sectoral dialogues and three plenary sessions, hosting delegates representing industries and organisations from across the country.
  • The Brexit Stakeholder Forum, with a more limited membership, has met five times since its establishment in September 2017. The Stakeholder Forum brings together the voices of business, unions, state agencies, political parties and leading experts who have an important contribution to make in helping to shape our collective response to Brexit.
  • Ministers have also been convening other sectoral meetings – such as the Export Trade Council, the Better Outcomes, Better Futures Council and Food Wise 2025 High Level Committee – to hear from other industry representatives about their views.
  • Ministers have also been speaking at key industry events and taking views from a range of meetings held over the last number of months as part of Government business, where the issues of Brexit have been raised.
  • There has been ongoing Oireachtas engagement with Ministers and senior officials appearing in front of Committees and as part of Oireachtas business to answer questions regarding our priorities and work to date.

Domestic Response:

Ireland has taken important steps to prepare our economy, including the Action Plan for Jobs 2017, and our Trade and Investment Strategy. 

  • Many dedicated measures were announced in Budget 2018. These included a new €300m Brexit Loan Scheme for Business, increased funding to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, a €25m Brexit Response Loan Scheme for the agri-food sector and additional supports for capital investment in the food industry and Bord Bia marketing and promotion activities, amounting to over €50m in total.
  • An additional capital expenditure allocation of €4.3bn over four years will also allow the State and its agencies to properly plan major infrastructure projects while ensuring that communities and businesses can plan ahead.
  • Increased funding to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has provided for opening of six new diplomatic missions as part of Global Footprint 2025, which will contribute to helping our exporters find new markets. 

Engagement Abroad:

The Government has undertaken a programme of extensive engagement, with our EU partners, the EU institutions, and further afield. 

Brexit is top of the agenda for all meetings with our European Union counterparts, both with our fellow member states, and also with the representatives of the EU Institutions.

Led by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and with the Taoiseach and Minister of State for European Affairs playing key roles, our EU engagement has involved:

  • Bilateral meetings at home and abroad
  • Meetings with fellow EU Ministers at Council meetings
  • Ongoing engagement with European Council, European Commission, including the Brexit Task Force, and European Parliament
  • Extensive engagement by Irish diplomats in EU capitals
  • There have been over 1050 High-Level engagements in total (as of February 2018)

It is useful to note that there are well-established arrangements for bilateral engagement with our UK counterparts, such as the structures established under the Good Friday Agreement and as a result of the 2012 Joint Statement between the Taoiseach and the UK Prime Minister.

The two Governments continue to work closely as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, including in the context of current political developments.

Outside the EU, we have maximised our international trade missions and other international trips. Through our network of Irish diplomats, Enterprise Ireland and IDA specialists, we continue to confirm Ireland’s strong commitment to our membership of the EU and the Eurozone, and our priorities for the Brexit negotiations.


What are the Government’s Brexit priorities?

Protecting the Northern Ireland Peace Process

  • Protect all provisions of the Good Friday Agreement
  • Maintain EU support for the Peace Process
  • Having an invisible border on the island
  • Support continued North-South cooperation

Minimising impact on trade and the economy

  • Maintain close trade between UK and EU/Ireland
  • Minimise regulatory burden for goods transiting UK
  • Improve business environment – more competitive, diversified markets, better   infrastructure
  • Pursue trade and investment opportunities from Brexit

Maintaining the Common Travel Area

  • Commit jointly with UK to maintain CTA
  • Confirm rights and benefits under the CTA
  • Secure support of EU partners
  • Uphold free movement of EU citizens within the EU

Influencing the future of the European Union   

  • Strengthen existing alliances in EU, build new ones
  • Influence future direction of European Union
  • Promote better awareness of EU role, values and achievements
  • Maintain strong Ireland-UK and EU-UK relations


How can you keep in touch with the Government regarding Brexit?

A Government Brexit Update is available to provide you with the most reliable and up-to-date information, and to provde greater insight into the steps the Government is taking to prepare for Brexit.

Sign up to this service.

The Latest News section of the site is regularly updated with the latest information, and you can also follow @dfatirl on Twitter for further updates.


How long will these negotiations take?

According to the EU Treaties, the Article 50 exit negotiations should be completed within two years.  This can be extended only if all members of the European Council unanimously agree to do so.

The United Kingdom is expected to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

The Irish Government is strongly in favour of transitional arrangements being in place from the point of the UK exit from the EU. These are hugely important for Ireland in giving certainty to individuals and businesses and have been prioritised in the first part of phase two of the negotiations. The EU has proposed that the status quo would be preserved during the transition with the aim of avoiding any gaps or cliff edge effects between the UK leaving the EU and the point when a future relationship agreement enters into force. 


Can Ireland block the UK’s exit deal?

According to the Treaties, the exit agreement should be approved by a majority vote in the European Council, which includes the Taoiseach and his fellow EU leaders.  No one member state could block that exit agreement; however, in light of the EU’s tradition of consensus, a unanimous decision would be strongly preferred by all Member States.

It is also worth noting that, even if a deal could be blocked, that does not mean that the UK would not leave – Under Article 50, it would simply mean that the UK would depart without appropriate arrangements in place.


What happens if no agreement is reached?

The EU Treaties simply cease to apply to the UK two years after notification. The Government is working hard with the EU Task Force and our EU partners to ensure that agreement is reached.


Why is Britain leaving the EU?

A referendum was held on Thursday, 23 June 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.


What is Article 50?

Article 50 is the legal text that governs the process for any Member State that wishes to exit the EU. It was created as part of the Lisbon Treaty - an agreement signed up to by all EU states which became law in 2009.

Article 50 indicates that if any EU member state decides to quit the EU, it must notify the European Council and negotiate its withdrawal with the EU. There are two years to reach such an agreement - unless all Member States agree to extend it. Meanwhile, the exiting state cannot take part in EU internal discussions about its departure.

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty


What is the single market?

The Single Market refers to the EU as one zone without any internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services. A functioning Single Market stimulates competition and trade, improves efficiency, raises quality, and helps cut prices. The European Single Market is one of the EU’s greatest achievements. It has fuelled economic growth and made the everyday life of European businesses and consumers easier. Access to the single market, an area of 500 million people, has been a key driver in Ireland’s growth over the last 20 years.

For further information please see:


What is the customs union?

The EU Customs Union is an example of an area where a number of countries apply a uniform system for handling the import, export and transit of goods and implement a common set of rules called the Union Customs Code (UCC).

For further information please see: