Written answers

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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73. To ask the Minister for Finance the level of checks that will be required between Ireland and Great Britain if the current Brexit deal were to be ratified; the number of extra customs officials that will be required to deal with the number of checks; the contingencies at ports here with regard to the increased level of checks required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44155/19]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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On 17 October, the EU Taskforce and UK Government agreed a revised text of a Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, which was subsequently endorsed by the European Council.

Subject to ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by both the UK Parliament and the European Parliament, the UK will enter a transition period until the end of 2020, with the possibility of an extension for a further 1 or 2 years. During this transition period, Union law shall be applicable to and in the United Kingdom. This means that, from a customs standpoint, there will be no checks during this period.

It is only after the UK has left the EU that formal negotiations can commence on the future EU-UK economic relationship, based on the broad terms outlined in the Political Declaration. The Political Declaration contains the shared ambition to have a Future Trade Agreement with zero tariffs and quotas between the EU and the UK. Given that these negotiations have yet to commence, it would not be appropriate to comment on the nature of future checks that may be required. It is important to note however, that it is still the case that the UK is leaving the EU and this will bring change. It is important that Ireland is ready for that change, both for our citizens and out business, and our work to prepare for all scenarios surrounding the UK’s exit continues.

In planning for Brexit, Revenue had determined that in an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU, to include a transition period and the implementation of a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and UK, an additional 600 Revenue staff would be required. This was based on the introduction of  customs formalities for East-West trade between Ireland and the UK. This recruitment was accelerated in preparation for a potential No Deal exit on 31 October. This requirement for an additional 600 staff remains Revenue’s best estimate of the resources that will be required in the context of the current proposed Brexit deal to facilitate and support legitimate trade.

In a Brexit context, the efficient flow of trade through our ports and airports is a key priority for the Government and various government departments and agencies have undertaken and continue to undertake significant preparations to facilitate this post-Brexit. During 2018, Revenue chaired an Inter-Departmental group which was established to consider the adequacy of port and airport infrastructure and facilities, post-Brexit. The group included representatives from Revenue; the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM); the Department of Health; the HSE’s Environmental Health Service (EHS); the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTS); the OPW; the Department of Justice; and An Garda Síochána. 

I am advised that the group considered the physical infrastructure requirements for both the ‘Central Case’ and the ‘no-deal’ scenarios to facilitate and support the movement of legitimate trade. This included the requirements of Revenue; DAFM; and the HSE’s EHS; to carry out any necessary customs interventions and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks at ports and airports as a result of Brexit.  The group identified that infrastructure was required at Dublin Port, Rosslare Europort and Dublin Airport and agreed proposals on the nature and scale of new or extended facilities that would be required. The Office of Public Works (OPW) are responsible for the delivery of the necessary infrastructure. Temporary facilities are in place for 31 October 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit. OPW are currently working to ensure that these temporary facilities will be replaced by permanent facilities by 1 January 2021 which will accommodate the full requirements of the different agencies from that date.


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