Today’s publication by the UK Government of a first batch of technical papers on the implications of a no deal Brexit should be a wakeup call to the UK itself about the importance of reaching a withdrawal agreement with the EU, and a strong future relationship, Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has said.
Speaking at the Aldi Supplier Brexit Conference in The Heritage Hotel, Killenard, McGuinness said both sides, the EU and the UK, are preparing for the worst but must focus now on reaching a deal.
“The EU is well aware of the consequences of no deal, having published 68 preparedness notices already on the legal implications across many sectors. Therefore EU negotiators have been focused on reaching a withdrawal agreement with the UK and ensuring an orderly exit,” she said.
“With 80 per cent of the deal already concluded it is vital that the major remaining issue, a legally operational backstop for the Irish border, be concluded.
“Equally we want to maintain as much as possible a strong trading relationship with the UK.
“With the publication of the UK’s no deal scenarios, it should focus minds on reaching an agreement, rather than allowing the worst to happen,” she said.
Ms McGuinness outlined three scenarios for the coming months.
“The best outcome is that, by early November at the latest, EU and UK negotiators complete the Withdrawal Agreement and reach a deal on the shape of the future relationship. That means that after 29 March 2019, there is no sudden change – the transition period will begin and the UK will maintain what is essentially EU membership, minus representation in the EU institutions, until 31 December 2020. This would also be good news for business and for the agri food sector, meaning no immediate dramatic change, with time to work out details of the future relationship.
“The second possibility is a no deal scenario, which would be bad for everyone.
“Thirdly, more time may be required to complete the orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU. In that event an extension of the Article 50 deadline past March 2019 would need to be requested by the UK. I believe the EU could be willing to provide for this in order to facilitate an orderly withdrawal, even if this presents political complications for both the UK and the EU.”
Ms McGuinness said Aldi Ireland are to be complemented for the initiative to bring together their suppliers to discuss Brexit preparedness. “This is important for all sectors of the Irish economy but very especially for the Irish agri-food sector.”
The MEP encouraged SMEs to use all resources that the State is providing to assist in the Brexit planning. For the food sector Bord Bia is providing very significant knowledge and resources to prepare, including its Brexit Barometer.
Commenting on the publication of the UK technical papers, Ms McGuinness said: “I welcome the recognition of the UK’s unique relationship with Ireland in these papers. However, it is concerning that the advice to businesses in Northern Ireland importing and exporting to Ireland only notes that more information will be provided in due course, while suggesting businesses take advice from the Irish Government.”
EU Preparedness Notices available here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/brexit/brexit-preparedness/preparedness-notices_e
Bord Bia Brexit Barometer available here: https://www.bordbia.ie/corporate/press/pages/brexitbarometer2018.aspx
Further resources for businesses are available from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/EU-Internal-Market/Brexit/Getting-Brexit-Ready/