Thursday, 7 February 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
203. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if action plans dealing with mitigating measures and contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit scenario have reached implementation stage; his plans to deal with problems faced by hauliers of agrifoods and fish products in the event of customs checks causing delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6074/19]
My Department has been actively participating in the Whole-of-Government approach to preparedness and contingency planning, and we have been working very closely with colleagues in other Departments and agencies to address in particular the requirements that will arise in relation to the implementation at ports and airports of import controls on agrifood and fishery products coming from the UK. This process has moved into the implementation phase, and practical arrangements are being put in place to ensure that our legal obligations are fulfilled as efficiently as possible while also ensuring the minimum possible disruption to trading arrangements.
Work in this regard has been focused on three key areas, namely, infrastructure, staffing and information technology, and in three key locations, that is Dublin Port, Rosslare Port and Dublin Airport.
On infrastructure, we have been engaging very closely with the Office of Public Works, the Department of Transport, the Department of Health and the Revenue Commissioners in relation to the physical facilities that will be required to carry out import controls at the three locations. Areas being addressed here include inspection facilities, staff accommodation, parking, and logistics and traffic management.
On staffing, the Department is again working very effectively with Customs and others to provide the resources needed to apply the necessary controls and I am confident that the state will be in a position to apply controls at the appropriate time.
On information technology, my Department has established a project to coordinate the identification and delivery of ICT Infrastructure and systems to support the additional requirements of staff engaged in control processes in Dublin Port, Rosslare and Dublin Airport. The delivery timelines in the event of a disorderly Brexit are extremely challenging, but officials are working with the greatest urgency to ensure that the required ICT services are in place by 29th March.
Throughout all of this work, the focus of my Department continues to be on the need to discharge our legal responsibilities in relation to the control of imports from a sanitary and phytosanitary perspective and the certification of exports, while minimising the potential problems that hauliers and others are likely to face.
204. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the recent discussions he has had with the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries on the need to protect the Irish fisheries sector post Brexit; the issues discussed; the outcome of such discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6183/19]
Over the past two years, I have had regular, positive meetings with Commissioner Vella on the potential implications for the fisheries sector arising from Brexit, most recently on the margins of the December Fisheries Council. I am due to meet with the Commissioner again on the 18th of this month specifically on preparedness issues in the worst case scenario of a no deal Brexit.
My priority is to maintain existing levels of access to waters and resources. If the withdrawal deal goes through there will be no changes to the status quo for at least two years. Within this timeframe and within the context of the overall economic partnership, the EU and UK will work to establish a new fisheries agreement to be in place for the first year after the transition period.
In the event of a disorderly departure by the UK on the 29thof March existing reciprocal arrangements could be endangered.
The Commission is, in cooperation with the Member States, proposing measures that would allow ongoing reciprocal access, but the outcome will depend on the position of the UK which is, as yet, unclear.
If such reciprocal access does not materialise, the impact on Ireland's fishing fleet will be significant.
My Department is working closely with other Member States and the Commission on these matters, and I will be meeting Commissioner Vella very shortly to discuss the need for supports for the Irish fishing sector in the event of a disorderly Brexit.