Mairead McGuinness Fine Gael MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has said while every effort will continue to be made in the next 30 days to avoid a no deal Brexit, it is the responsibility of the UK Government to avoid such an eventuality.
Speaking at the European selection convention for the Midlands-North-West constituency in Mullingar Friday evening (22nd February) she said threats to our primary producers are rightly causing fear among our farmers and we will need to ensure that strong EU solidarity supports farmers through any potential crisis.
“A crisis in the Irish beef sector is a crisis for the EU beef sector and will demand an EU response, as well as an Irish response,” she said.
And she warned our fishing sector is also facing huge challenges.
But, she said, no one and no sector is immune to the impact of a crash out Brexit.
“If that were to happen it would also represent a failure of politics and a complete failure of our once partners at the EU table to reach an agreed settlement.
“If the UK crashes out of the EU at 11pm on March 29th it will also be a disaster for the UK and reflect the inability of UK politicians to do the right thing.
“It would also point to a global trend of fragmentation of politics and it does not auger well for the future,” she warned.
The MEP said that while we must continue our efforts to ensure an orderly withdrawal, we also have to focus on the future of the EU.
“Solidarity around Brexit shows a united EU, yet on some issues there is little common ground,” she said.
“Challenges including migration, security, climate change, completing the banking union and even agreeing an EU budget post 2020 have all to be faced up to.
“At a time when global institutions are under threat and some member states stress the nation first ahead of the EU, charting a coherent way forward will be difficult but absolutely essential to achieve,” she said.
We need to build a strong EU fit for the future, that meets the concerns of citizens and is accessible, transparent and open, Ms McGuinness said.
The challenges facing the EU are many, she said. “Political developments in some member states challenge the unity of purpose. “Populist leaders attempt – and sadly have succeeded to date in scapegoating ‘Brussels’ as the cause of domestic difficulties.
“The next European Parliament is likely to see an increase in eurosceptic members – which will impact the ability of the Parliament to legislate effectively,” she said.
There is a danger that the chamber becomes a stage for anti-European forces, she warned.
“Healthy criticism of the EU is both necessary and important in order to make progress but the recent past shows us that anti-EU forces seek to destroy the EU and its core values and principles.
“That would not be in our interests,” she said.