European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier to address Irish Parliament

Posted May 12, 2017

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator quipped that his Ryanair flight to Dublin, even without coffee, underlined the benefits of the bloc, as he sought to reassure the Irish of his commitment to protecting the nation as the United Kingdom pulls out of the EU.

"I am fully aware that some member states will be more affected than others", Barnier said in an address to both houses of the Irish parliament, an honor usually only reserved for visiting heads of state.

Hear, hear, Barnier might have said.

'Nothing in this negotiation should put peace at risk, ' says EU Brexit negotiator.

"Ireland's interests will be the union's interest", Barnier told Irish lawmakers at a joint sitting of the upper and lower houses of parliament.

Even as Barnier offered reassurances to his audience, he underlined the challenge at hand.

"Based on my experience in the past, and all that we're hearing now, I have more confidence in Michel Barnier's motivation to respect and reflect the principles and precepts of the Good Friday Agreement in the forthcoming negotiations than the British government's confused impulses".

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"We are in this negotiation together and a united European Union will be here for you", he said, adding that he planned to travel to meet farmers and staff at an Irish dairy cooperative close to the border.

While he spoke about protecting the border with Northern Ireland, he stressed that customs controls were in place to protect the single market.

Following Mr Barnier's address, the leaders of the various political parties and groups in Dáil will have the opportunity to speak.

Mrs May has accused Brussels insiders of seeking to influence the outcome of the June 8 General Election.

He repeated the EU's position that the issue of the UK-Ireland border, citizens' rights and "the financial settlement" must be the first priorities for talks.

That will include negotiating a "bold and ambitious but fair free-trade agreement" but only once progress has been made on issues including the UK's bill for leaving the EU. About 30% of milk produced in Northern Ireland is sent south of the border to be processed, while significant amounts of milk go north of the border to be processed into cheddar cheese for export to the UK.