EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to visit Ireland on Wednesday

British government rows back on parts of plan to force companies to list foreign staff

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier: Will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny and senior officials in the Department of Taoiseach for talks on Wednesday. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier: Will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny and senior officials in the Department of Taoiseach for talks on Wednesday. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

 

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will visit Ireland on Wednesday as Brussels intensifies preparations ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Mr Barnier, who commenced his role as the commission’s chief negotiator on October 1st, will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny and senior officials in the Department of Taoiseach for talks on Wednesday.

The former French commissioner’s trip to Dublin takes place following similar visits to France, Germany, the Netherlands and Romania.

It is understood that Ireland is keen to ensure that an Irish official is represented on Mr Barnier’s team which is expected to expand to up to 20 or 30 staff in the run-up to Brexit.

Foreign workers

His meeting comes after the British government appeared to row back somewhat from controversial plans to compel companies to publish data on the number of foreign workers they employ.

Education secretary Justine Greening said in an interview on Sunday that companies would not be compelled to publish data. But they will still be obliged to provide the information confidentially, which would be used by the government to identify skill shortages.

An estimated 600,000 Irish-born people are living and working in Britain.  

Restrictions on Irish workers living and working in Britain has not been ruled out post-Brexit, though the Government is hoping that Ireland’s unique relationship with Britain, enshrined in the Common Travel Area, will be taken into account in negotiations.

But Ireland’s trade relations with Britain will be determined by the deal struck by all 27 remaining member states and Britain once the exiting member state leaves the bloc.

The Daily Telegraph on Saturday reported that all EU nationals currently residing in Britain will be permitted to remain in the country after Britain exits the European Union, despite senior cabinet minister Liam Fox previously suggesting that this could not be guaranteed.

Hard Brexit

British prime minister Theresa May signaled last week that her government is moving towards a so-called “Hard Brexit”, as she pledged to regain control over immigration from the EU and to remove Britain from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, both of which are incompatible with the single market.

The indication by Ms May that her government would prioritise immigration over single market membership prompted a strong sell-off in sterling last week. In particular the City of London, which represents about 11 per cent of Britain’s GDP, is growing increasingly concerned that financial services firms in London will lose “passporting” rights which allow British-based companies to sell into the single market.

Ireland, France and Italy have the highest number of nationals working in London’s financial industry according to some estimates.

A report by Oliver Wyman last week said up to 35,000 finance jobs could be at risk following Britain’s exit from the European Union, along with about £5 billion in tax to the British exchequer.

Ms May confirmed last week that she would trigger article 50, the exit mechanism for leaving the European Union, by the end of March next year, paving the way for a two-year exit process. Experts believe that a new trading relationship between Britain and the European Union will take several years to negotiate.