Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Brexit Preparations

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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47. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of contingency planning for all Brexit scenarios including a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3695/20]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The United Kingdom formally left the European Union on 31 January 2020 and discussions on a future EU-UK relationship got underway on 2 March.  It is important to recall that a range of key issues are resolved by the Withdrawal Agreement (i.e. citizen’s rights, financial settlement and the Northern Ireland Protocol), as well as by the Common Travel Area.  The transition period is scheduled to end on 31 December 2020, and while there is provision to extend it by agreement, the British Government has indicated that it does not intend to seek such an extension. This will mean significant change for Government, citizens and businesses when the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.  It is important that we all prepare for this change.

Following the end of transition period, the UK will no longer apply the rules of the Single Market and the Customs Union.  Even if the EU and UK can achieve an ambitious and deep agreement in such a short timeframe, it will not be the status quo and will involve considerable disruption, change and adjustment. There are significant sectoral and regional variations to the overall economic impact of Brexit with agri-food, fisheries, manufacturing and tourism among the most exposed and vulnerable sectors.

The Contingency Action Plan Update published by Government in July 2019 provided comprehensive overview of No Deal Brexit preparations and mitigation measures. The planning undertaken and lessons learned from no deal preparations will be valuable as we plan for the post transition EU-UK relationship.  

Key elements of Brexit preparedness have already been significantly progressed, but will need further work for any future relationship outcome. These include ongoing infrastructure works and resource upgrades at our ports and airports for additional checks and controls on East-West trade; business readiness and supports for the most impacted sectors; risks of supply chain disruption; security of supply of medicines; addressing concerns over potential disruption to the UK landbridge and a communications campaign.  Government Departments continue Brexit preparedness and contingency work across all sectors, and given the uncertainties surrounding the possible outcomes of the forthcoming future relationship negotiations, this work will continue to be a priority for the period ahead. Brexit preparedness will be closely aligned with the ongoing negotiations to ensure we are in a position to address challenges as they arise. 

No set of arrangements will be able to replicate the access and benefits of the UK being a member of the EU and within the Single Market and Customs Union. Ireland will continue to face these changes with the mutual solidarity and support of our EU partners and with all of the strength that EU membership brings.


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