Belfast Telegraph

Europe's top Brexit negotiator to address Irish parliament

Europe's chief Brexit negotiator is to address a joint sitting of the Irish parliament next week.

Michel Barnier is being given a privilege normally only afforded to visiting heads of state and prime ministers, and he joins esteemed speakers such as Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.

During his two-day visit to the Republic he will also travel to the border region and see first-hand where the UK split from the European Union is likely to be most keenly felt.

Mr Barnier will deliver a second speech while in Ireland, to the European People's Party (EPP), which is having a two-day meeting with the focus on Brexit.

Tony Blair is also due to address the get-together of centre-right, pro-European parties from 40 countries next Friday.

The meeting, which will involve MEPs from up to 70 parties and Irish government ministers and other politicians, is closed to the public and the media.

The EPP said Mr Barnier and Mr Blair will take part in a panel discussion on Brexit and objectives for the upcoming negotiations where the former British prime minister will make his speech.

The future of the European Union's transatlantic relations are also on the agenda.

Mr Barnier was with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for dinner with British prime minister Theresa May in Downing Street last week, which has become the subject of a row over alleged Brussels interference in the UK election.

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