Written answers

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Brexit Issues

Cormac Devlin (Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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82. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether Brexit will have a positive impact on any policy area or sector under the remit of his Department; and if the details of same will be provided. [37178/20]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Ireland regrets the UK’s decision to leave the EU, although we respect it.

From 1 January 2021, many aspects of our relationship with our nearest neighbour will change fundamentally as we will no longer share EU membership.  However, the Government remains committed to protecting and strengthening the Ireland-UK relationship following the end of the transition period.  Strong and vibrant connections are vital with our closest neighbour and trading partner.  Both Ireland and the UK remain co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement and are committed to the ongoing maintenance of the Common Travel Area and its associated rights and privileges. 

The Taoiseach and Prime Minister Johnson at their meeting in Belfast on 13 August, have already discussed the importance of nurturing and developing the bilateral relationship in a structured way in the context where the UK has left the EU.

While we will work with our UK colleagues on strengthening this relationship, it is also clear that Brexit, in any form, will have significant impacts in Ireland.  The Department of Finance has projected over the medium-term the level of GDP would be around 2% – 3.25 % lower relative to a hypothetical status quo scenario, with most of the impact in the first year or so.

The Brexit transition period will end in 43 days.  Whatever the outcome of the ongoing future partnership negotiations, the UK will be outside the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union, and EU law will longer apply to or in the UK.  This will bring significant and lasting change in the relationship between the EU and UK from 1 January, 2021.  Any business that moves goods from, to or through the UK, excluding Northern Ireland, will be subject to a range of new customs formalities, SPS checks and other regulatory requirements that do not apply in any form to such trade today.  However, the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland means that these checks will not apply to trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Failure to conclude a FTA will see the EU and UK trade on WTO terms and the introduction of tariffs and quotas.

The Government has been planning for Brexit since before the UK referendum to ensure that Irish citizens and businesses are as ready as possible for all possible scenarios.  On 9 September, the Government published its Brexit Readiness Action Plan, which details the actions Government will take and the actions citizens and businesses should take to prepare for the end of the transition period.  Citizens and businesses should now finalise their readiness work for the end of the transition period. This work will continue in the weeks ahead.

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