Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
437. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the recent comments made by the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in relation to the impact that tariffs will have on the UK agrifood industry and on the cost and availability of food in shops there; the discussions he has had with EU counterparts in relation to the impact WTO tariffs will have on exports to the UK if a hard Brexit occurs; and if a special fund will be made available to prepare farmers and industry for same. [9377/19]
I am aware of recent comments by Secretary of State Gove in relation to tariffs. As part of Brexit planning, my Department has already carried out a detailed analysis of the implications for Irish agri-food exports in a worst-case scenario whereby the UK applies the EU’s existing tariff schedule on imports. This analysis found that the estimated cost of potential tariffs for the sector as a whole is €1.7 billion, based on Irish agri-food exports to the United Kingdom of €4.8 billion in 2016. The decision as to how and when the UK might impose tariffs on imports from the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit is a sovereign matter for the UK Government.
I have been working very hard for some time to sensitise other Member States and the European Commission to the potentially very severe impacts of Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors, and to the likelihood of specific supports being required in order to deal with these impacts. The institutions of the European Union are very well aware of the likelihood of a significant impact of a no deal Brexit on Ireland’s economy because this has been part of the discussion from the beginning, and indeed this is explicitly recognised in the Commission’s own communication on contingency planning.
Most recently, I had a bilateral meeting with Commissioners Hogan and Vella to discuss the potential impact of a no deal Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors. We discussed the unique exposure of these sectors to the threat and the challenges that it could present. I stressed the need to be ready to deploy measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors, including through:
- traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the CAP's Single Common Market Organisation regulation
- increased flexibility under State Aid regulations
- a common approach from the Commission with Member States for the support of the fisheries sector.
My officials are in ongoing contact with the Commission and other Member States on these issues as the situation evolves.