Early assurance needed that Brexit deal with be voted by unanimity – Hayes
Following the official triggering of Article 50 today (Wednesday), Brian Hayes MEP said that it is vital for Ireland that EU negotiators give assurance that the final Brexit deal will be voted by unanimity.
“We are at a crucial moment in the EU’s history. The stakes could not be higher for Ireland and the EU as we go into two years of intense negotiations. In Ireland we need to be prepared and ready for a situation that will involve a number of different governments, various Taoisigh and an enormous amount of political and diplomatic effort.
“It is absolutely vital that we get an early assurance from Michel Barnier and EU negotiators that the final Brexit deal will only be voted through unanimity. In other words, the concerns of Ireland or any other Member State cannot be left behind.
“There have been constant appeals for the EU-27 countries to stick together and to negotiate as one throughout the process. If we negotiate as one, we also need to vote as one. Leaving the option open for one single Member State to be left disgruntled at the end of the process is not the best way to proceed.
“While it is accepted that the official rule for the final European Council vote on the Brexit deal is by Qualified Majority Voting, the actual procedure should not be pushed that far. The European Council’s way of doing business on a day-to-day basis is around reaching consensus on all EU agreements and legislation. It is very rare that a dossier would be put to a vote where certain Member States would have to vote against or abstain.
“Brexit is probably going to be the most important vote that the European Council has ever undertaken. Member States need to get clarity at an early stage that this deal won’t be railroaded through.
“The government and the Irish representation in Brussels has done a good job at getting Ireland’s priorities high on the agenda in Brussels. Equally, we have to recognise the concerns of other Member States; Cyprus is very vulnerable to a hard Brexit – the UK is their largest trading partner. Spain also has very specific concerns about the future of Gibraltar.
“The Council should make it clear from the start that all 27 Member States have rights in this process and that ultimately all concerns have to be met. This, from Ireland’s perspective, is crucial given that we will be most affected by the negative impact of Brexit. We also must remember that all phases of this negotiation will be subject to legal challenge and ultimate determination in the courts.
“Next week the European Parliament will be the first EU institution to adopt a formal negotiating position on Brexit by way of a resolution voted by all MEPs. We should remember that the European Parliament will play an important role throughout the Brexit process and will need to give its consent to the final deal.”