1 March 2019

New Government advice published

Further practical advice regarding Brexit has been published by the Irish Government this week.

Published on the Government’s main website at gov.ie/brexit, the aim of this new advice is to help businesses and citizens around the country to further prepare for Brexit.

Brexit & Business includes areas such as transport & logistics, staffing, banking, trading with the UK, certification, data protection as well as the broad range of Government Brexit programmes, funds and supports.

Brexit & You covers are range of practical issues like living & working, studying, travelling & visiting, and how Brexit may impact on daily life.

Check out all the information on gov.ie/brexit.

Omnibus Legislation debate underway

The Government Brexit Omnibus Bill has started its passage through the Oireachtas.

The ‘Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019’ is now at Second Stage in the Dáil. This week, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, all spoke regarding the details of this bill, which deals with necessary legislative changes to 15 policy areas in the event of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement on 29 March. You can read the Tánaiste’s opening remarks on this debate here.

Ratification update

Today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is visiting Belfast where he will meet with Northern Ireland business organisations to hear their views and concerns on the latest Brexit developments. This week saw also a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Egypt as both were attending the EU-League of Arab States Summit.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and UK Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington MP, met in Leinster House yesterday at the request of the British Government. They took this opportunity to discuss Brexit as well as the ongoing political impasse in Northern Ireland.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was also in Dublin this week. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe met him, where discussions included Brexit and the future of the EU.

European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee visited Latvia and Lithuania this week, where the agenda for meetings included Brexit & Brexit preparedness.

Contingency planning update

While ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement is still the Government’s preferred outcome, this update is the next step in a series of measures that the Government is taking, both nationally and in conjunction with the EU, in preparation for the possibility that the UK fails to agree a deal for their departure from the EU on 29 March.

Engagement with Stakeholders

• Another Brexit Stakeholder Forum took place this week where the Tánaiste gave key stakeholders an update on the Omnibus legislation and further planning in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
• Business, Enterprise, & Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys met with Enterprise and Regulatory Agencies as part of the Brexit Co-Ordination Group.
• The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed chaired the 11th meeting of his Department’s Brexit Stakeholders Consultative Committee this week to give the latest update on preparedness to the sector.

Customs
• This week, Minister Humphreys launched the first in a series of Customs Workshops for businesses. This is the latest series of Brexit-related events organised by Government which has seen nearly 80 events in 21 counties organised since September.
• Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys urged businesses that trade with the UK to register for a customs number with Revenue.
• Also useful to check out the EU Commission’s Brexit Customs Guide for businesses. You can also check the EU Commission’s Brexit Trader Checklist to assess whether your business trades with or moves goods through the UK.
• Revenue has also just issued their latest update on number of companies undergoing customs registration.
Agriculture & fisheries
In addition to the stakeholder engagement (see above):
• This week, the EU Commission announced that maximum threshold limits around agriculture state aid will be increased from €15,000 to €25,000, a move that was welcomed by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.
• The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is inviting Private Veterinary Practitioners to consider veterinary inspector opportunities with them as part of Brexit contingency planning.
• Minister Creed met with representatives of the Irish Fishing Industry in Clonakilty to discuss Brexit contingency planning.
Regions
Two more Regional Enterprise Plans were launched this week, North-East and North-West.

Government Brexit Events

This week Government Brexit events took place in Laois, Galway, Westmeath, Cork, and Limerick

Upcoming events next week:
4 March: InterTradeIreland, Brexit for Cross Border Traders, Monaghan
5 March: Enterprise Ireland, Brexit Advisory Clinic, Letterkenny, Donegal
5 March: LEO, Brexit & Beyond, Edenderry, Offaly
6 March: Bord Bia, Regional Customs Training, Thurles, Tipperary
6 March: Enterprise Ireland, Brexit Webinar
7 March: LEO, Brexit Ready for Export Seminar, Limerick
7 March: Bord Bia, Regional Customs Training, Dublin
8 March: LEO, Customs Procedures Workshop, Cork

Check out the Irish Government’s dedicated website for all Brexit information:
www.gov.ie/brexit

8 March 2019

In this update:
• Omnibus legislation passes the Dáil & secondary legislation list published
• Latest Brexit business supports, including new Brexit call centre for agriculture
• Information updates on professional qualifications, Common Travel Area & broadcasting
• Upcoming Government Brexit events around the country – 11 next week

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Minister Regina Doherty delivering a Post-Cabinet Brexit Update, Tuesday

Government Update

While ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement is still the Government’s preferred outcome, this update is the next step in a series of measures that the Government is taking, both nationally and in conjunction with the EU, in preparation for the possibility that the UK fails to agree a deal for their departure from the EU on 29 March.

Cabinet
Cabinet held its weekly discussion on Government preparedness on Brexit. This included:
• The Government Brexit Omnibus Bill which completed its passage through the Dáil this week. Next week it will go to the Seanad for discussion.
• The list of 21 pieces of secondary legislation was also published this week covering issues such as health, social protection and VAT.
• Final domestic decisions regarding Common Travel Area arrangements. This paves the way for final agreement between the Irish and British Governments on this priority issue. Read more about the Common Travel Area here.
• Further updates on the economic impact of Brexit by the Department of Finance with the ESRI.
• Update on ports and airports preparations including the well-advanced work on temporary infrastructure at Dublin and Rosslare ports, and additional staff to be in place by the end of March.
• Ministers updated cabinet on their recent stakeholder engagement.

Business supports & engagement
• Following government consultation with the EU, the budget for Rescuing and Restructuring scheme was increased tenfold from €20 million to €200 million. This scheme helps safeguard the future of Irish SMEs most exposed to Brexit.
• Cross border business agency InterTradeIreland have expanded their Brexit supports, which includes new funding and online learning for businesses.
• Businesses are urged to put the right processes in place for moving goods through the UK after Brexit.
• Tánaiste Simon Coveney updated IBEC on Brexit contingency planning at their Dublin headquarters.
Agriculture
• A Brexit Call Centre for Agriculture has been announced, with a dedicated phone number and email address to answer queries.
• Agriculture Minister Michael Creed published his Department’s report on increasing Market Access, which highlights successes over the past year and a half, including beef access to China.
• Also announced is that agricultural attachés are to be increased by 50% from 8 to 12, with new positions created in Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul and Mexico as well as the agri-food trade missions this year to Turkey, China, Japan, South Korea, Algeria and Egypt.
Driving & Freight Transport
• The Department of Transport issued its latest advice on Green Cards for drivers concerned about proof of insurance post-Brexit.
• European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee spoke on Brexit preparedness to the Freight Transport Association, noting the importance of transport and transit issues in planning for Brexit.

Also this week

• Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in Dublin where they discussed Brexit, bilateral relations, and EU issues.
• The Taoiseach spoke at the American Chamber of Commerce’s US-Ireland Business conference.
• The Tánaiste addressed the Reconciliation Networking Forum in Dublin. The Forum organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is for representatives of groups working on peacebuilding in Northern Ireland and throughout the island of Ireland supported by the Department’s Reconciliation Fund. Read his full speech here
• Minister Helen McEntee spoke to the Seanad on the future of Europe and EU membership.

Latest updates on gov.ie/brexit

New or updated information published this week on:

Broadcasting
Marriage recognition
Professional Qualifications
Common Travel Area

Government Brexit Events

This week Government Brexit events took place in:
Monaghan, Donegal, Offaly, Tipperary, Limerick, Dublin, and Cork.
Enterprise Ireland also organised Brexit Webinar this week.

Upcoming events next week include:
11 March: Bord Bia, Regional Customs Training, Westmeath
11 March: Revenue, Brexit Trader Engagement Seminar, Dublin
12 March: NSAI, Brexit Information Seminar for Construction Sector, Dublin
13 March: LEO, Brexit Risk Analysis and Risk Management, Cork
13 March: Enterprise Ireland, Brexit Webinar
13 March: LEO, Prepare Your Business for Customs, Dublin
13 March: InterTradeIreland, Brexit: The Future for Border Businesses, Louth
13 March: FSAI, Seminar on Brexit and Food Safety Compliance, Dublin
13 March: NSAI, Brexit Information Seminar for Construction Sector, Cork
14 March, Enterprise Ireland, Brexit Advisory Clinic, Dublin
14 March, Enterprise Ireland, Essentials of Exporting, Monaghan

Check out the Irish Government’s dedicated website for all Brexit information:
www.gov.ie/brexit

12 March 2019

Statement by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar on latest developments on Brexit

Government Buildings, 12 March 2019

As you know, Prime Minister May met with President Juncker in Strasbourg last night where they agreed an interpretative ‘Instrument’ on the Withdrawal Agreement and a ‘Joint Statement’ on the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. Those documents were published last night.

The documents are complementary to the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration and aim to provide an additional layer of interpretation, clarification and elaboration to the United Kingdom ahead of a further vote in Westminster.
We are aware that the UK Government has also published a unilateral declaration, alongside the two joint documents agreed.

In the context of tonight’s vote in Westminster, the outcome from yesterday’s meeting between Prime Minister May and President Juncker is positive, and I hope and trust that the Withdrawal Agreement will be now endorsed by the House of Commons.

In discussions with the UK, the Government has worked hand in hand with our EU partners and the EU institutions, including the Commission and Michel Barnier’s Task Force.

In that work, we have insisted that the Withdrawal Agreement could not be rewritten, and that the backstop arrangement, while intended to be temporary, must continue to apply unless and until it is replaced by future arrangements that can achieve the same objective, namely no hard border.

However, we have also said that we were prepared to offer guarantees and further reassurances and to the UK of our good faith and intentions – indeed we have offered such reassurances on many occasions.

The Instrument agreed yesterday puts those assurances on a legal footing and represents an unambiguous statement by both parties of what has been agreed.

It does not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, or undermine the backstop or its application.

It says that we will work together, in good faith, in pursuit of a future relationship that ensures that the objectives of the Protocol, particularly the need to avoid a hard border, are met.

We are also committed to exploring alternatives in a timely way, in the event that the overall future relationship cannot be concluded in a satisfactory and timely manner.

But it does not call into question that the backstop will apply unless and until better arrangements are agreed, with all parties using good faith and best endeavours to that aim.

So the options to ensure avoidance of a hard border continue to correspond to those agreed as far back as the Joint Report of December 2017, which envisaged this being achieved by:
1. a comprehensive future EU-UK relationship,
2. specific solutions or,
3. in the absence of agreed solutions, regulatory alignment, i.e the backstop.

The documents agreed yesterday reiterate our wish to establish a future partnership with the UK that is as close as possible, and marks our commitment to ensure that negotiations on that future relationship can begin as soon as the UK leaves.

The instrument agreed sets out how we will go about this important work.

It also recalls the dispute resolution mechanisms in the Withdrawal Agreement that could be invoked were either party to demonstrate bad faith, including the possibility of seeking a ruling from a panel of arbitrators.

I hope that, together with the Joint Statement on the Political Declaration, it will provide a basis on which we can move forward again.

The Withdrawal Agreement represents a fair compromise by all sides. The Political Declaration provides a strong framework for the future work.

And the further texts agreed yesterday provide the additional clarity, reassurance and guarantees sought by some to eliminate doubt or fears, however unreal, that the goal of some was to trap the UK indefinitely in the backstop. It is not.

Those doubts and fears can now be put to bed.

The Withdrawal Agreement, as you know, provides for a transitional period running to the end of 2020 during which nothing will change. This is really important for exporters, businesses, employers, farmers and our fishermen.

And regardless of the vote tonight, we have already secured a continuation of the Common Travel Area, free movement of people North and South and between Britain and Ireland. The right to live, work, study, access healthcare, housing, education, pensions and welfare in each other’s countries as though we were citizens of both. And this is particularly important for citizens, students, cross border workers and expatriates of both countries.

Irish citizens in Northern Ireland will of course continue to be citizens of the European Union no matter what happens.

In many ways, Brexit has been a dark cloud over us for many months, and particularly the threat of no deal. A positive vote tonight can remove that cloud and restore confidence and optimism in Britain, Ireland and across the European Union.

We now need to see the Withdrawal Agreement ratified by Westminster and by the European Parliament without further delay, so that we can get on with the important work of building the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK, and between the UK and Ireland, post Brexit.

I now feel that for the remains of the day, we need to give MPs in Westminster the time and space to consider what’s now on the table.

Thank you very much.

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