Incoming EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan has said the “mood music” on a Brexit deal has changed and added he is now “cautiously optimistic” an agreement can be reached.
Mr Hogan was at Collins Barracks in Cork city, where he was attending a Cork Pink Week business breakfast, and said the next few days of negotiations will be crucial to the outcome and added he believes there is a “good chance” that any deal Mr Johnson presents to the UK Parliament will be accepted.
“Clearly, the mood music is good. We are cautiously optimistic that there will be further work in the next few days that will help deal with the issues that are a very serious concern to the European Union and the UK, namely the issue of consent for the governance of the island of Ireland [and] the issue of customs and checks and controls.
“We want to ensure that we protect the all-Ireland economy and that we have no hard border and we support the Good Friday agreement and have as frictionless trade as possible between the UK and the EU.
“We see there was a problem with the last deal. Mr Johnson, of course, is now trying to fine-tune the deal that was negotiated by Theresa May and see if they can make some changes here and there that would actually have a chance of making it through parliament. I think there’s a good chance, if there is a deal, that the House of Commons will approve it.
The fact that the Taoiseach and Boris Johnson felt that they could use words like ‘a pathway’ to a possible deal, clearly indicates that they have made good progress but let's see what the detail will be in terms of the principles that they have agreed.
Asked if he believed that Northern Ireland will remain in the EU Customs Union, Mr Hogan added that the EU and Ireland are still holding firm on their position that it will.
Ahead of taking up his role as EU Trade Commissioner, Mr Hogan announced the development of a ‘Beating Cancer Plan’ for Europe.
“Everybody has been affected in some way by cancer. That is why the incoming EU Commission under president-elect Ursula von der Leyen has made the fight against cancer a top priority,” he said.
"The president-elect, who is herself a former physician, has requested that incoming EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides put forward a strategy for developing a ‘Beating Cancer Plan’ for Europe.
“This is a new initiative designed to support EU Member States in improving cancer prevention and care. The Beating Cancer Plan will propose EU action to tackle every key stage of the disease: prevention, diagnosis, treatment, life as a cancer survivor and palliative care,” Mr Hogan added.
The Breast Care Unit at CUH, which benefits from the funds raised by Cork Pink Week, sees more than 30,000 patients every year.
The funds raised from Cork Pink Week will be used to invest in a new state-of-the-art ultrasound machine for the Breast Cancer Unit at Cork University Hospital.