Written answers

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Brexit Issues

Cormac Devlin (Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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118. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on whether Brexit will have a positive impact on any policy area or sector under the remit of her Department; and if the details of same will be provided. [37185/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Government regrets the UK’s decision to leave the EU, although we respect it.

My Department's key policy area is in respect of the impact of Brexit on the reciprocal arrangements for social insurance (which includes pensions) and social assistance (means tested schemes linked to residency rights) and child benefit between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Following the end of the transition period on the 31 December, Irish and British citizens will continue to enjoy the right to travel, live and work between the UK and Ireland in the same manner as before. This is because of a long-standing arrangement known as the Common Travel Area (CTA). The CTA pre-dates Irish and UK membership of the EU and is not dependent on it. Both the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom are committed to maintaining the CTA in all circumstances and a Memorandum of Understanding to that effect was signed on the 8 May 2019.

As part of that commitment to the CTA, the Government also entered into a Convention on Social Security with the Government of the United Kingdom, signed on the 1st February 2019. Under the terms of the agreement, Irish and British citizens living in either country will maintain the right to benefit from social insurance contributions made when working in either country and to access social insurance payments, such as state pension (contributory), in either country just as before. The agreement passed through the Parliamentary ratification procedures in both jurisdictions during March 2019, and now stands ready to be given legal effect on the 31 December 2020.

From 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, as outlined, committed to the ongoing maintenance of the Common Travel Area and its associated rights and privileges.

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 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. This work will continue in the weeks ahead.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

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