Emergency Brexit measures need to be outlined urgently – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West has said it is incredible that neither the Irish government or the European Commission have outlined what contingency supports will be in place for vulnerable sectors such as Irish agriculture in the event of a no-deal scenario. Speaking following receipt of a communication from Commissioner Hogan regarding the Irish Government’s application for emergency aid, Carthy said:
“In January I wrote to the Commission asking whether they had already launched preliminary studies on the adverse impact of Brexit on the Irish agricultural sector. It is vital that provision is made so that we can utilise the best tools for mitigating potential loss of markets, trade diversion and the withdrawal of the UK from Free Trade Agreements.
“It is incredible that we are now days away from a potential ‘no-deal’ Brexit and Commissioner Hogan is still saying it is too soon to make a call on what market support measures will be at Ireland’s disposal.
“It is true that there are already some structures in place, but from experience there are also impediments to the triggering of many of these options. Many crisis management tools require disruption across EU markets, not just in one, and we know from experience of the Dairy crisis from 2014-2016 that many of these tools take months to activate, and longer even after that to actually arrive in farmers’ pockets. By the time potential support is received, severe damage has already happened at farm level.
“The British government has already announced that it is planning on putting in place completely ruinous tariffs on Irish agriculture in the event they crash out of the European Union. We also know that there will be immediate shocks arisen from sharp currency fluctuations and other unforeseen consequences arising from a hard British exit from the EU. Vulnerable sectors such as our farming community will need support – and they’ll need it fast!
“It is unfathomable and inexcusable that the Commission has not yet decided what tools will be available under its Brexit Contingency Plan.
“The Irish Government needs to up its game; they need to spell out to the commission that a ‘wait and see’ approach is not good enough. They need to force the Commission to come forward with genuine options in the nightmare scenario of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit”.
Text of communication between Matt Carthy MEP & Commissioner Phil Hogan:
Question for written answer P-000126/2019
to the Commission
Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL)
Subject: Emergency aid in light of Brexit
On 3 January the Irish Government announced that it would be seeking emergency aid to cope with the adverse impact of Brexit on trade, specifically for the beef, dairy and fishing sectors.
Can the Commission confirm that it has received a formal request and provide the details of that request?
Given the fast-approaching date of exit, can the Commission state whether it has already considered this request and launched preliminary studies on the amount of funding necessary to avoid crisis in these sectors?
Answer given by Mr Hogan
on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission is in close contact with the EU27 Member States, including Ireland, concerning Brexit and the potential impacts on trade in such sectors as agriculture and fishing. In this respect, the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has met the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and presented him with the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the Irish agri-food sector.
On 13 November 2018, the Commission adopted a Communication on contingency planning in case of a disorderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, in order to mitigate the most disruptive consequences for EU27 in case of a withdrawal without an agreement in place. The Communication confirms the Commission’s commitment to protecting the interests of EU Member States and of those sectors most at risk from Brexit and acknowledges that “the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU will impact all Member States to varying degrees, but none more so than Ireland.” This reflects the fact that Ireland is especially exposed to disruption due to its strong trade links and shared land border with the United Kingdom.
The Communication also confirms that the Commission stands ready to support Ireland to find solutions addressing the particular challenges. This includes preparations for a no-deal withdrawal scenario. The Commission has already adopted a series of contingency measures including for EU fisheries. Information on the website includes a series of relevant preparedness notices as well as details of various legislative initiatives and other legal acts. While a disorderly Brexit would present additional challenges, not least to the agri-food sector, the Commission has tools at its disposal to address these challenges, notably the various market support measures.
It is still too soon to say what specific form any EU assistance could take, not least as the circumstances in which the United Kingdom will leave the EU are not yet known nor what the exact economic consequences of the departure will be.