Ibec - for Irish business
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Irish business sets out key Brexit priorities in Brussels

25 September 2017
Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, will today in Brussels set out comprehensive proposals to limit the negative impact of Brexit on business and the wider European economy. However, the group warned that the current divisive UK position risked massively disrupting EU-UK economic relations, leaving Irish business particularly exposed to the fall-out.

At a briefing of senior EU policy makers, European business leaders and the international media in the Sofitel Europe Hotel, Brussels, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy warned that the UK government was currently leading Britain towards an economically calamitous Brexit divorce. Mr McCoy said the UK approach continued to put short-term political concerns ahead of jobs and the needs of business, without any regard for established trading relationships. It is time for the business voice to be heard much more forcefully in the debate, said Mr McCoy.

At the event, Mr McCoy said the closest possible future EU-UK relationship was in everyone's interest. He called on the EU to restate the February 2016 'New Settlement' offer of revised EU membership terms made to the UK prior to the referendum, and ensure the possibility of the UK revisiting the Brexit decision remains attractive and feasible. While such a scenario seems remote right now, that could change over time, he said.

In his address, Mr McCoy highlighted key Brexit priorities for Irish business:

Customs unions: “A UK departure from the EU’s customs union will seriously disrupt trade between Ireland and the UK, particularly with Northern Ireland, and deeply damage wider EU-UK trading relations. It makes no economic or business sense. If the UK insists on such a policy of self harm, a long transition period that maintains existing trading rules will be needed to allow companies time to adapt."

Ireland’s unique exposure: “Any new deal must recognise the unique economic and political challenges that Brexit presents to Ireland, and put in place a range of specific measures to address these. This will need to include provisions on travel and labour market rights, while also addressing Ireland’s unique trade exposure and the challenges presented by a potential customs border on the island of Ireland."

Future EU-UK relations and Single Market: “Any future EU-UK deal must reflect existing close economic ties and facilitate the closest possible cooperation into the future. It should not seek to punish the UK. However, a deal must not undermine the coherence and integrity of the Single Market. Clear, legally binding and enforceable provisions will be needed to ensure fair competition and resolve disputes; and regulatory divergence must be kept to an absolute minimum."

Alleviation measures: “A temporary EU state aid framework will be needed to help European companies trade through any adjustment period. In the case of a fraught exit, funds amounting to up to €1 billion over three years may be needed from domestic and EU sources to help Irish companies innovate, diversify into new markets, train staff and invest for the future."

“Membership of the EU and the Single Market has been and will remain a central and vital part of Ireland’s economic success story. Ireland has been the fastest growing economy in Europe over the last three years and the underlying strength of the economy, means it is well positioned to face the challenges Brexit presents. The task now is to minimise the risks. We need to forge a new, positive relationship with the UK, and business will support these efforts," said Mr McCoy.