Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Good afternoon. Leo, many thanks for your warm welcome to Dublin and for your Irish hospitality.
It is no secret that we discussed Brexit with a special focus on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. I came to Dublin to reassure the Taoiseach and all the Irish people that the EU is fully behind you and your request that there should be no hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. The Irish request is the EU’s request.
Or as the Irish proverb goes: “Ni neart go cur le cheile” (There is no strength without unity)
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU has created uncertainty for millions of people in Europe. Perhaps, nowhere is this more visible than here. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is no longer a symbol of division, it is a symbol of cooperation. And we cannot allow Brexit to destroy this achievement of the Good Friday Agreement.
It is the UK that started Brexit and now it is their responsibility to propose a credible commitment to do what is necessary to avoid a hard border. It is clear that we cannot reach a full agreement on every single detail at this stage, especially that the final outcome will be linked to the future relations between the EU as a whole and the UK.
As you know, I asked Prime Minister May to put a final offer on the table by 4th of December so that we can assess whether sufficient progress can be made at the upcoming European Council. And we have agreed today that before proposing guidelines on transition and future relations to the leaders, I will consult the Taoiseach if the UK’s offer is sufficient for the Irish government. Let me say very clearly: if the UK’s offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU. I realise that for some British politicians this may be hard to understand. But such is the logic behind the fact that Ireland is an EU member while the UK is leaving. This is why the key to the UK’s future lies – in some ways – in Dublin, at least as long as Brexit negotiations continue.