As President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen met with Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Dublin recently to discuss EU/UK relations, MEP for Dublin Frances Fitzgerald releases a new episode of her podcast which focuses on the future relationship of the EU and UK post-Brexit. On the seventh episode of The European Lens, former UK Minister Sir David Lidington explains the political impacts of Brexit on the UK five years after the referendum result, his take on the Northern Ireland Protocol and what future co-operation between the United Kingdom and the European Union looks like.
Speaking on the podcast, Sir David Lidington said: “There’s no getting away from the fact that relationships are pretty bruised at the moment. The UK has managed to maintain better bilateral relationships with some member states in the EU than with others. There’s no hiding the fact that relationships between the British government and the EU as an entity are not in a good way to some extent.”
He continued: “My advice to European friends is to focus on where it is possible to work together and build up relationships from the bottom, looking at the practical issues where there are shared interests and shared objectives. I think the hang up that the British government has is that they are very nervous about the idea of formal relationships with the EU institutions.”
In this episode, Frances Fitzgerald also spoke to SDLP MP Claire Hanna who shared her views on the Northern Ireland Protocol: “The Protocol is the result of trying to reconcile the choice for a very hard Brexit that the UK government made with the realities of the geography of the island of Ireland, and, of course, the politics and the history as well. Nobody loves it. It’s nobody’s first choice. It was selected by process of elimination because the other options and configurations were voted down by extreme Brexiteers, the UK government and indeed in the DUP.”
This episode also features Nathalie Loiseau, MEP and former French Minister for European Affairs who is a member of the UK Coordination Group in the European Parliament. She shared her insight on the European view of Brexit and whether member states feel punitive towards the UK: “I was involved in the negotiations very early on as a Minister for European Affairs in France, and people would call me Minister for Brexit because it was eating more and more of my time. Nobody was in a mood of punishing the U.K. The idea was to protect the interests of the European citizens in a very pragmatic willingness to have a dialogue with the UK.”
The podcast series aims to bring the Irish public closer to the EU by helping them understand how major issues are playing out on the European stage. The European Lens is available from all usual podcast outlets now.