Written answers

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Brexit Preparations

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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298. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a national audit of Brexit preparedness and readiness has been carried out; if so, if such an audit will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43277/20]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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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 scenarios. As part of this work, the Government has published Brexit Contingency Plans in December, 2018, July 2019 and most recently in September 2109.

Our September 2019, Brexit Readiness Action Plan outlines in substantive detail the changes that will arise at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December. It provides information on the actions Government is taking and the steps that citizens and businesses should take to mitigate the risks that arise from these changes.

All Departments and Agencies continue their intensive preparation for the end of the transition period. This work takes account of two scenarios, a limited FTA (including fisheries) or a hard Brexit with the EU and UK trading on WTO terms. This includes overseeing work for which they have direct responsibility as well at outreach to the specific stakeholders to assist them. All this work is support by a comprehensive communications programme including TV, radio, media and social media advertising.

Our Readiness work is overseen at official level by the Assistant Secretaries group on Brexit readiness, co-chaired by an official from my Department and the Department of the Taoiseach, meets on a weekly basis and manages the whole-of-Government readiness agenda. All relevant Departments and Agencies report in to this group on their work in areas such as trade flows, support for trades, infrastructure, connectivity and transport, services, sectoral issues such as data and energy, communications and outreach and legislation. This group reports to the Secretaries General group chaired by the Secretary General to the Government.

I, and other Ministers, are briefed on an ongoing basis and provide regular updates to the Government on the status of our Brexit readiness work. I did so most recently on 8 December. We also, as the Deputy is aware, brief the Oireachtas on an ongoing basis. I will be updating the Dáil on Thursday 17 December during Statements on Brexit Readiness.

Departments will use the remaining 16 days to refine their readiness work and support their stakeholders. Plans are being finalized by relevant Departments and Agencies for the provision of helplines and call centres over the initial period after the transition.

I have always been very clear that Brexit means disruption and change and that the seamless nature of trade between the EU and UK will no longer be possible. The Government has undertaken a significant amount of work to mitigate the risks for business and citizens. However, not all risks can be mitigated as a number are outside are control. However, we will continue in the remaining days and into next year to work with all stakeholders in addressing the challenges Brexit brings.


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