Dáil debates

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Post-European Council Meeting: Statements


4:25 pm

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I am just a mere mortal when it comes to European law and the ongoing European Council meetings. Clearly, there are not enough mortals from Ireland going to these meetings. I had to read through the minutes of the meeting we are discussing and nowhere did I see any mention of the horrors that hauliers and firms in Ireland are going through in order to get their goods delivered. Ireland is the most disadvantaged country in Europe as a result of Brexit. The latter took place just three months ago and it is as if it never happened. We are an island located off the coast of another island, the UK, which stands between us and Europe. Europe has all the choices while Ireland is clearly disadvantaged on many levels. Why do hauliers still have a paper-based T-forms instead of digital forms? Requirements should be effortless, modern and technology-based. Try driving around Europe with a perishable product such as shellfish and try to find a customs agent. This is unfair to any industry and it does not even get a mention on our airwaves or here in the Dáil. What about products arriving on time? Ask the owners of garages that are waiting for tyres and factories that are not getting supplies and are unable to function.

Since Brexit, the additional cost relating to every lorry leaving Ireland has been €500. We need concessions in European law regarding air, sea and rail transport. Why is this not being asked for by the Government? Cabotage is another avenue that we could look at for Ireland. In France, companies can only make two drops, thus eliminating income generated by securing a backload. This is where people could make a profit. How can Irish suppliers compete when it now takes six to eight hours longer to reach their destinations? This is not about the ferries. They are providing a service but it is more expensive. Why are issues like this being ignored at European Council meetings, particularly in circumstances in which Ireland is surely the most disadvantaged member state?

I will finish with a quotation from the European Council meeting:

With a view to the upcoming Porto Social Summit, we [the EU] underline that a successful digital transition requires that no one is left behind. We need the necessary tools and infrastructure ... while ensuring fair working conditions and high standards in the digital economy.

This quotation is not about Ireland, but it should be.


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