Brexit implementation plan an urgent priority for business
I hope you and yours had a peaceful Christmas. Since I was last in touch, Ibec welcomed the Christmas Eve Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the EU and UK.
After nearly 50 years of UK membership of the EU, these negotiations were always going to be prolonged and difficult. In this context the deal announced, which delivers tariff-free trade, provides relief for Irish businesses exporting to the UK and is a strong platform for a future positive economic relationship between the EU and the UK. Moreover, it is positive that the Irish Government expects to receive some 25 per cent of the EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve fund.
I reflected these points at a meeting yesterday of the Enterprise Forum on Brexit and Global Challenges, Chaired by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, and at a meeting earlier today with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney TD. However, I also reiterated that, despite the positive elements of the deal outlined above, it still very much constitutes a “hard” Brexit and as of now there is effectively no implementation period for business following the end of what was called a transition period but in effect was still a negotiating period. The Irish Government and EU authorities must therefore, as a matter of urgency, work collectively with business to support our supply chains in adapting to entirely different trading conditions with the UK.
From Friday, there will undoubtedly be immense pressure on the port and transport logistics infrastructure. This emphasises the importance of the ‘Green Lanes’ initiative at EU level, which must also be implemented now in partnership with the UK as a third country. Irish and EU authorities must also take a pragmatic and flexible approach in implementing the new customs and SPS procedures, to help the system adapt to an enormous change made more difficult by the challenges of COVID-19. Ibec has consistently argued for a pragmatic implementation plan and will continue to advocate on your behalf to ensure as much certainty as possible for business from January 1st onwards. Many elements of the future economic relationship also require further agreement, particularly in relation to services and the key area of data exchange.
Finally, I would encourage you to visit our dedicated Brexit campaign page for the most recent updates and information to ensure you and your business is prepared for this new economic landscape. We have recently published our analysis of the Protocol agreement and the Ibec team is working to review the full details of the EU-UK TCA. I will share that comprehensive analysis over the coming days.
As always, I would very much welcome any thoughts or feedback you have on this.