Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
83. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the launch of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019 on 22 February 2019; and the status of preparations for a possible hard Brexit, as reported in the media (details supplied) on 20 February 2019. [9375/19]
The Government published the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019 on 22 February 2019, in line with the schedule announced in January. It is made up of 15 Parts relating to matters within the remits of 9 Ministers.
Prior to its publication, Cabinet met on 3, 15, 22 and 29 January to discuss the provisions of the proposed Bill. The General Scheme of this Bill was published on Thursday, 24 January.
The Consequential Provisions Bill focuses on measures protecting our citizens and supporting the economy, enterprise and jobs, particularly in key economic sectors. It makes provision for continued access to healthcare, social security protection, student support and protection of consumers.
As part of this ongoing work, I briefed the Working Group of Committee Chairs on the General Scheme of the Bill on 13 February. I also briefed the Foreign Affairs Committee, which was attended by members of the European Affairs Committee, on 14 February. Ministers also briefed their relevant sectoral Committees.
In publishing the Bill, the Government provided detailed technical briefing at official level to opposition parties. The Second Stage debate in this House begins today. The Government will continue to work closely with all the opposition parties and Oireachtas members to seek their cooperation in ensuring that the necessary Brexit-related legislation will be concluded in a timely manner and in advance of 29 March 2019.
In addition to the legislative work underway, following the publication of Ireland's Contingency Action plan on 19 December and the European Commission's Plan on 18 December 2019, work has continued on a range of issues and sectors. This work has included developing mitigation measures including business supports and outreach campaigns which do not require primary legislation, as well as detailed engagement at EU-27 level on mitigation measures on an EU-wide basis.
Government has since the beginning of January considered memos outlining challenges and possible mitigation measures on key sectors affected by a no-deal Brexit. Discussions to date have covered a range of key matters including transport connectivity, continuity of supply of medicines, macroeconomic impacts, and implications for agri-food and fisheries.
Public engagements in preparation for a no-deal Brexit have intensified including, for example, a focused outreach to traders led by the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. An update to the Contingency Action Plan was published on 30 January 2019 at a meeting of the Brexit Stakeholder Forum, which also received an update on the intensified work underway.