At the Council of Europe , Strasbourg Senator Terry Leyden Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) sought the support of the President of France, Francois Hollande in relation to Ireland having a representative at Europe/UK Brexit negotiations
President Hollande agreed that consideration needs to be given to Irish representation at the negotiations between EU and UK on Brexit.
Senator Leyden commented, “On my own behalf, and on behalf of the Irish delegation and my ALDE colleagues, I say fáilte – welcome – to President Hollande. We in Ireland are deeply concerned about the economic impact of Brexit, as we have a 499km border with the United Kingdom, and €1 billion in trade in goods and services every week, and are the only country in Europe with a border, within Ireland, with the United Kingdom. Mr President, would you support Ireland having a representative at the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom to protect our economic interests in this regard?”
President Holland responded, “Brexit was a decision made by the British people and now, of course, that has to be fully respected and implemented. I had hoped that the negotiations would start quickly, but Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, prefers to put them off and open the negotiations in March, and we respect that. There can be no negotiations between now and then. As of March, the European Commission together with the European Council will be able to engage in negotiations that determine the conditions under which the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. Obviously, certain issues directly affect Ireland and that will have to be taken into consideration by European Commission negotiators, in close consultation with the Irish authorities. Having been to Ireland – I visited Dublin recently – I have made it clear what the situation is and what rules will need to be applied. At present, the United Kingdom is an integral part of the European Union, but when the negotiations start, what you said will have to be taken into consideration”.