Overview

A no deal Brexit would mean that on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) the UK’s status under EU law would change from that of an EU Member State to that of a third  country with no trade or cooperation agreements in place with the EU. The transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement, would not apply. The UK would be outside the Single Market and the Customs Unionand would no longer be part of the framework of EU law, known as the EUacquis.

A no deal Brexit would be highly disruptive and would have profound political, economic and legal implications for Ireland, the rest of the EU and, most significantly for the UK itself. It is not the outcome we want and our focus continues to be on securing ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. Nevertheless, it is prudent at this stage to accelerate preparations for a nodeal Brexit.

We have been planning for all Brexit scenarios but in light of the uncertainties in London and the Brexit deadline of 29 March, the Government at its meeting of 11 December decided that immediate priority must now be given to preparations for a no deal Brexit and that Government Departments and state agencies should urgently take forward all necessarywork on that basis.

Brexit Planning and Action Structures

Extensive Brexit preparedness and contingency planning has already been undertaken across Government since the Brexit referendum in the UK. In the immediate aftermath of the referendum in 2016, a contingency framework was published, identifying key policy issues to be managed by Government Departments arising from the referendum vote in the UK to leave the EU.

The Contingency Framework was central to the development of Ireland’s position in the negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement and also served as guidance for the further work which has been underway across all Departments and Agencies since then to prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU.

This work is managed through a range of Inter-Departmental engagements chaired and co-ordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and through EU-level engagements. These range from political discussions at the highest level during Cabinet meetings, to granular Management Board consideration of issues and approaches in each Department and sectoral area.

The work also includes horizontal considerations from the large number of research reports commissioned and published on the possible impacts of a range of Brexit scenarios on Ireland to the more day-to-day discussions at weekly meetings of Brexit co-ordinators across the whole of Government.

In addition to this ongoing work, since July 2018 the Government has taken a number of key decisions based on Brexit preparedness. These decisions were based on a central case scenario, and as recently as 26 November all Departments provided updated action plans addressing both the central case and no deal Brexit scenarios. The shift to preparing for a no deal Brexit will require the acceleration of certain measures already identified and underway, the putting in place of possible temporary

The ‘central case’ scenario is based on the agreement of the Withdrawal Agreement, including
transition period until 31 December 2020, the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and a Free Trade ‘Plus’ Agreement.

This contingency action plan is designed to provide a first public update on key issues in the context of a no deal Brexit, building on the detailed and comprehensive work underway. This will be part of an ongoing process of public updates to take place over the coming months. Another update will be made public in January 2019.

Addressing the challenges of a no deal Brexit takes place at a number of  levels and requires responses at the EU level, responses by Government and responses by businesses and affected sectors. It is only by working together nationally and with our partners in the EU that we can aim to mitigate the impacts of a no deal Brexit and ensure that we are prepared to the greatest extent possible.

However, we must recognise that a no deal Brexit will be disruptive and will potentially have severe macroeconomic and trade impacts. Reports commissioned by the Government and undertaken by the ESRI/Department of Finance and by Copenhagen Economics provide extensive evidence to demonstrate that the macroeconomic and trade implications for Ireland of a no deal Brexit would be pronounced.

Our membership of the EU with all the stability and solidarity it brings are central to our planning and preparations. Ireland will not be in the same situation as the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit – we will continue to enjoy the benefits of EU membership, including the regulatory and legal certainty that it brings.

Stakeholder Engagement

Engagement with stakeholders is a key pillar of the Government’s overall response to Brexit. Ongoing consultation has been instrumental in identifying priority issues, both in terms of Ireland’s approach to the negotiations as well as shaping the domestic response. As greater clarity emerges on the exact
nature of the EU-UK relationship on the date of withdrawal and beyond, the Government’s outreach to stakeholders will also increasingly focus onpreparing businesses and citizens for the practical implications of Brexit, building on the efforts already underway in this regard.

In addition to the regular and detailed interactions that Government Ministers  and their officials have with businesses and stakeholders relevant to their respective portfolios, a number of dedicated  consultation forums have been established within the context of Brexit.

A major initiative in this regard has been the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit, which was established in November 2016. Within the framework of the All-Island Civic Dialogue, four plenary dialogues and twenty sectoral dialogues have taken place to date in locations across the country, involving
over 1,500 representatives from a range of industry and civil society groups.

The Tánaiste established the Brexit Stakeholder Forum in September 2017, which has met 14 times since then, with a view to facilitating a regular and focused dialogue involving State Agencies, business and sectoral representative groups, political spokespersons and other relevant experts.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation convenes an Enterprise Forum on Brexit and Global Challenges every six to eight weeks, and has established a Brexit Coordination Group to discuss Brexit impact and mitigation measures in relation to trade, investment, innovation, standards and regulation. Brexit is also a standing item on the agenda of the Retail Consultation Forum, which provides a platform for structured engagement between the retail sector and relevant GovernmentDepartments.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport regularly convenes meetings of the Maritime Stakeholders Forum and the National Civic Aviation Development Forum. The Stakeholders Consultative Committee on Brexit established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and
the Marine has met nine times.

The Government launched the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready public information and outreach campaign in September 2018, including a comprehensive website (www.dfa.ie/brexit) bringing together information on all of the work taking place across Government on Brexit, and a dedicated social media presence. Over 2,500 people attended the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready public outreach events held throughout October and November in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Dublin, Letterkenny and Monaghan. This campaign will continue into 2019 and will continue to communicate established and evolving information on all aspects of Brexit, including a nodeal scenario.

Next Steps

Ireland remains committed to working with our EU partners and the British Government to reach an agreed outcome.The Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration on the future relationship is a fair and balanced deal, with compromises shown on both sides.

The finalised Agreement also secures transition, which is hugely important in giving certainty to citizens and businesses.However, given the persisting uncertainty, the Government agreed on 11
December, building on the comprehensive preparations already underway, to prioritise planning for a no deal Brexit.

This Contingency Action Plan has set out some of the key areas of focus ofthat de tailed and comprehensive work. It is a living document which will be updated and developed over the coming months.In the immediate term:
 The Government is now prioritising no deal planning. A full Government meeting is scheduled for 3 January 2019.
 The Government will continuously review developments and mandate appropriate action, including on infrastructure, resources and other necessary measures.
 The necessary legislative measures required in a no deal scenario will be introduced in the Oireachtas in January 2019.
 Public and Stakeholder consultation and engagement will be intensified from January, through a new phase of ‘Getting IrelandBrexit Ready’.
 As action at EU level is essential in many important sectors, the Government will intensify high level engagement with the Commission and other key partners in the EU 27.
 At expert level, there will be continued intense engagement with theCommission and with other Member States, in particular those with whom we share concerns.

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