Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
152. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the extent to which he remains in contact with his EU colleagues in an effort to ensure the coordination of trans-EU efforts to cater for any aftershock of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43836/20]
I can assure the Deputy that I, and my Government colleagues, continue to engage actively with our EU counterparts across a number of different fora. I very much welcome the solidarity and strong support shown by EU colleagues throughout the period since the UK decided to leave the EU.
Following engagement between my predecessors and Executive Vice President Vestager it was agreed that Irish officials would continue to work closely with the Commissioner’s team in addressing any State aid issues that may arise to ensure a rapid and appropriate response as the ultimate shape of Brexit became known. Commissioner Vestager emphasised the Commission's readiness to act urgently to mitigate against the worst impacts of Brexit on Irish firms.
While the COVID-19 response has, over the last 10 months, been the key focus of the DG Competition State aid team, my officials have, at every meeting with the Commission on the COVID-19 response, highlighted that Ireland is also working in tandem on its Brexit response. I met with Commissioner Vestager at the beginning of October 2020. While the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the COVID-19 State Aid Temporary Framework, I took the opportunity to highlight the twin challenges of COVID-19 and Brexit. I reiterated that underlying the economic impact of the pandemic was the ever present threat of Brexit which will significantly increase the economic shock to the EU economy and that the implications for Ireland are very significant.
I recently wrote to Commissioner Vestager in follow up to a number of issues raised at our October meeting and will be seeking a further meeting with her early in the new year. A key issue on our agenda will be Ireland’s combined response to COVID-19 and Brexit.
Last week, my colleague Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance, met with the EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn in Brussels. He took the opportunity to impress on the Commissioner the significant impact of Brexit on Ireland and pointed out the need for additional supports for Irish businesses to cushion the worst impacts of Brexit. I understand that the Commissioner was sympathetic to Ireland's position and they discussed the €5 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve which has been provided for in the MFF budget.
The Commission proposal for the Brexit Adjustment Reserve which has yet to be published is aimed at providing assistance for the Member States most impacted by Brexit and on this account Ireland will expect to benefit from a significant share of the fund.
Of course, this fund will be in addition to the recovery fund of €3.4 billion that Government has provided for in Budget 2021 to cater for COVID-19 and Brexit.