EU deal must not leave Britain with advantage, says Flanagan

Minister says ‘if I chose to resign from my golf club I could not expect to turn up the next day and play for free’

Charlie Flanagan: warned the negotiations with the UK would be “difficult and complex”

Charlie Flanagan: warned the negotiations with the UK would be “difficult and complex”

 

Brexit negotiations cannot lead to a situation where the UK enjoys a more advantageous position outside the single market than EU members, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has said.

Speaking to Dublin-based EU diplomats in Iveagh House on Friday, Charlie Flanagan said it was “just not true” that EU members wanted to punish Britain for leaving.

“But, especially at a time when the Union itself is under strain, it would be unreasonable for any country to expect to enjoy the rights and benefits of membership without the duties and obligations.

“I’m not a great golfer, but I know full well that if I chose to resign from my golf club I could not expect to turn up the next day and play for free and enjoy all the clubhouse benefits and privileges.

“And while the Union is about much more than a narrow calculation of national gains and losses, it must be the case that membership is more advantageous than any kind of external relationship.”

Complex

“If the UK takes a constructive and pragmatic approach in setting its goals and conducting the negotiations, it should be met with a similar approach from the EU side. Continuing emphasis on the downsides and risks of failure, or imagining a future of rivalry, will not build goodwill as effectively as demonstrating a steely determination to succeed.”

Mr Flanagan said it was “very likely” that some “transitional arrangements or implementation period” would be required between the expiration of the two-year period following the triggering of article 50 and the final exit of the UK from the Union.

He repeatedly pointed to the complex and involved nature of the new arrangements which would have to be negotiated.

“There is a tendency to think only of the future trade and economic relationship, but there are many other difficult issues to address such as fisheries, civil aviation, energy, agriculture, possible British participation in EU programmes and so forth,” Mr Flanagan said.

Agreement

He dismissed suggestions that Ireland should consider leaving the EU with Britain, saying it would result in Ireland returning to the sterling area.

“The consequence of leaving the European Union would inevitably be a return to a greater dependence on the UK and, effectively, a return to the sterling area – without any of the input we have around the European table.

“This would reverse the trend of the past 40 years and the great strides we have made in diversifying our economic and political relationships. It would surely be politically inconceivable in a period when we are marking the centenary of our passage to independence.”