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MoS Murphy welcomes the outcome of discussions on the draft EU negotiating guidelines

Minister of State Murphy welcomes the outcome of discussions on the draft EU negotiating guidelines

Minister of State for European Affairs, Dara Murphy TD, today attended the General Affairs Council (Art. 50) in Luxembourg.
This was the first meeting of the General Affairs Council in its “Article 50” format, which enables the 27 remaining EU Member States to discuss the EU’s position on the withdrawal negotiations without the UK in attendance.
Speaking after the meeting, the Minister said:
“I had a very positive exchange with my counterparts today on the draft EU negotiation guidelines ahead of the European Council this Saturday. The Commission was represented by First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Michel Barnier, the Union's Chief Negotiator on Brexit. Crucially, there was a strong sense of trust, unity and consensus among the 27 at today's Council meeting.
“I believe the draft we have agreed today represents a solid and pragmatic basis on which the EU can approach the forthcoming negotiations with the UK and I am very optimistic that it will be adopted by the Taoiseach and his counterparts at the European Council on Saturday.
“Over the past ten months since the referendum the Taoiseach, Minister Flanagan, myself and Government colleagues, have been engaging intensively with our EU partners to explain the unique challenges and concerns that Brexit poses for Ireland. I am particularly happy that the draft agreed today represents a positive outcome for Ireland in this respect.
“We have a long and difficult road ahead of us. But I am satisfied that the draft EU guidelines will, when adopted by the European Council, provide the EU with a positive and unified platform on which to advance its interests in the coming negotiations.”

The draft EU guidelines will now be referred to the European Council for adoption by the 27 EU Heads of State and Government on Saturday 29 April, where Ireland will be represented by the Taoiseach.
In the margins of the Council, the Minister also met with Sweden's Minister of EU Affairs & Trade, Ann Linde. This provided a valuable opportunity to exchange views on Brexit as well as on opportunities for enhancing bilateral cooperation, in particular with regard to the Digital Single Market, where Sweden and Ireland share many common aims and priorities.