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News Northern Ireland
I take note with regret of the outcome of the vote in the House of Commons this evening.
On the EU side, the process of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement continues.
The Withdrawal Agreement is a fair compromise and the best possible deal. It reduces the damage caused by Brexit for citizens and businesses across Europe. It is the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
The negotiators of the European Commission and the United Kingdom have reached a deal on the terms of the Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement.
All aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement have now been finalised and agreed at negotiator level. This agreement marks a decisive moment in the negotiations. The European Commission therefore recommended to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, allowing the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement to be concluded and the next step of the process to be initiated. The negotiators have also agreed on an outline of the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.
On Wednesday 12 September 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, delivered his State of the Union address at the European Parliament. This year's speech comes ahead of the 2019 European elections and in the midst of the ongoing debate about the future of the European Union at 27. President Juncker presented the next concrete steps towards building a 'More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union', which was the theme of his 2017 Address.
European Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, Phil Hogan, has confirmed that he will agree to UK requests for EU rules on crop diversification to be relaxed following excessive rain that has delayed crop planting.
Commissioner Hogan confirmed the decision following requests from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, the Scottish Government and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in the UK, to exempt arable farmers in Northern Ireland and Scotland from the requirements for crop diversification under the greening provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Requirements will also be eased for farmers in other parts of the UK.
The European Commission has approved the addition of a new product from Northern Ireland to the quality register of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). "Lough Neagh Pollan", which is caught and processed in Lough Neagh, is a white fish with a bright silver skin.
The European Commission has today published the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
The draft Withdrawal Agreement translates into legal terms the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on the progress achieved during phase 1 of the negotiations, published on 8 December 2017, and proposes text for those outstanding withdrawal issues which are mentioned in, but not set out in detail, in the Joint Report. It also integrates the text on the transition period, based on the supplementary negotiating directives adopted by the Council (Article 50) on 29 January 2018.
The European Commission has today set out its principles for the political dialogue on Ireland and Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.
Today's paper states that the Good Friday Agreement should continue to be protected and strengthened in all its parts after the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. The continuation of the Common Travel Area, which facilitates the interaction of people in Ireland and the UK, should also be recognised.
Key issues include ensuring that: the interlocking political institutions on the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, established by the Good Friday Agreement, continue to operate; cooperation (in particular, North-South cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland) is protected across all the relevant sectors; and that full account be taken of the birth right of the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves as British or Irish, or both. Given Ireland's unique situation in the Brexit negotiations, a unique solution is required.
Addressing a joint session of the Houses of the Oireachtas in Dublin, the EU's Chief Negotiator for the Article 50 negotiations with the UK, Michel Barnier, said that he understood the EU's role in strengthening dialogue in Northern Ireland and supporting the Good Friday Agreement and said: "I will work with you to avoid a hard border".
On 3 May, the College of Commissioners sent a recommendation to the Council to open the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. It includes draft negotiating directives. This legal mandate follows the adoption on Saturday by the European Council of political guidelines.
The European Union's regional policy has played an important part in promoting economic and social development in Northern Ireland. Generous support to the drive for peace has also been given through the EU Peace Programme.