Transitional EU-UK trade deal post-Brexit vital for Ireland

Noonan spotlights need for interim agreement at euro group finance ministers meeting

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan outlined key issues for Ireland on margins of     finance ministers meeting  on Monday. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan outlined key issues for Ireland on margins of finance ministers meeting on Monday. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

 

The triggering of article 50 has been much-anticipated. But don’t expect too much to happen in the immediate wake of Wednesday week’s announcement. Theresa May’s government will, no doubt, talk up its ability to do a “good deal for Britain”.The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, meanwhile, will start the formal process of the EU agreeing its negotiating stance in the immediate wake of the article 50 notification.

All this may give a few hints of the priorities on both sides and the “mood music” as the talks get under way. And this will be important. The first issue in the talks will be the bill that Britain must pay to buy itself out of its EU commitments after Brexit. The lead EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, has floated a figure of €60 billion, but this has been described as “ absurd” on the British side. So there is a real risk of a bust-up early on, which could poison the talks.

For Ireland, the best outcome is a smooth negotiating process. Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, speaking on the margins of a meeting of euro group finances ministers, outlined Ireland’s key issues on Monday: the common travel area, the common labour market between Ireland and the UK and, of course, the importance of not having a hard Border between North and South.

Key issue

The best case scenario for Ireland would be a transitional deal, which agreed that Britain would remain at least in the customs union while the new trade deal was negotiated.The alternative is that Britain crashes out of the EU without any transitional deal in early 2019, leading to the immediate imposition of tariffs and other trade barriers and the need for at least some Border controls. So this is a key issue for Ireland – and a reason why we need the talks to be as constructive as possible.

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