Update to Contingency Action Plan

30 January 2019

Since the publication of the Contingency Action Plan on 19 December 2018, the Government has continued to intensify its preparations for a no deal scenario across a range of sectors.

Cabinet has been taking key decisions to advance the implementation of our Brexit preparations. This month Cabinet has advanced our Brexit related legislation, reviewed transport connectivity, the supply of medicines, the agrifood sector, the Common Travel Area, and the potential impacts on the Irish Economy of Brexit.

The Tánaiste this month appeared at both Dáil and Seanad ‘Statements on Brexit Preparedness’ where he updated Oireachtas members on Ireland’s preparations for Brexit. In addition he briefed members of the opposition on the implementation of our contingency planning.

While ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement is still the Government’s preferred outcome, given the ongoing uncertainty in Britain, we will continue to take concrete steps in preparation for a no deal scenario.

Legislation

On 24 January, Government published the General Scheme of proposed primary legislative measures required in the event of a no deal Brexit. The draft Omnibus Bill focuses on measures protecting our citizens and supporting the economy, enterprise and jobs, particularly in key economic sectors. The opposition will be kept regularly updated to facilitate the passage of this legislation through the Houses of Oireachtas.
The Omnibus Bill is made up of 17 Parts prepared by 9 Ministers. The proposed legislation makes provision for continued access to healthcare, social security protection, student support, protection of consumers, and to enable further business supports.
This publication was a key 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 European Union on 29 March.

Preparing our Ports and Airports

A key focus of our no deal planning is to ensure that East-West trade flows continue to move as smoothly as possible. In both Dublin and Rosslare Ports, sites suitable for temporary infrastructure have been identified and refurbishment work has commenced so that these sites can apply additional controls in a no deal scenario. At the same time, plans are advanced for the development of permanent infrastructure in both Ports.

At Dublin Airport, the volumes of traffic involved in the event of a disorderly Brexit can be catered for by existing facilities. Facilities for an enlarged Border Control Post by the end of 2019 are being developed and will include facilities required for Brexit.

Staffing

Revenue will have 400 additional customs officials trained and in place by end-March 2019, and will be in a position to recruit a further 200 by the end of 2019. This would fully meet their estimated staffing needs to implement the additional checks and controls needed post Brexit.
The recruitment of veterinary personnel and 70 other support staff to implement SPS checks has commenced, and an additional 61 Environmental Health Staff are in the process of being recruited.

Connectivity

On 15 January 2019 Government examined the impacts of Brexit on transport connectivity. DTTAS continue to consult with shipping companies who believe that there is sufficient spare and additional capacity in direct ferry routes to the continent, and that the market is sufficiently flexible to cater for any increase in demand for direct continental services over and above the already available capacity on those routes. DTTAS are keeping the matter under review and will continue to update the Government.
The EU has agreed that the UK may join the Common Transit Convention which will enable the use of the EU’s internal transit procedure – this is helpful in the context of the use of the UK Landbridge as a route to continental Europe.

Road Haulage

There are actions being taken at EU level which inform the plans of all Member States, and the Commission announced in December 2018 proposals to temporarily adopt measures for a 9 month period from 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020) to allow access for UK hauliers to the EU to ensure basic connectivity (subject to reciprocity from the UK). This has provided some reassurance to the sector.

Agri-Food and Fisheries

On 29 January the Government considered the implications for the Irish agri-food sector of a no-deal Brexit and ongoing contingency and planning work in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Government was also updated on recent bilateral discussions between M/AFM with Commissioner Hogan to discuss the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors where he stressed the need to deploy market response measures, including exceptional aid, under the CAP to provide necessary supports to Ireland’s agri-food sectors, given our specific exposure to the UK market.

As part of the actions at EU level, and last Wednesday 23 January 2019 the Commission announced two proposals to support the fishing industry. These are (i) to provide compensation to fishermen and operators in the event of a sudden closure of EU fishing vessels in a no-deal scenario, and (ii) to ensure that the EU is in a position to grant UK vessels access to EU waters until the end of 2019, on the condition of reciprocity.

Medicines

On 15 January 2019 Government also discussed the measures underway to protect the supply of medicines post Brexit. The HSE and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) have communicated with and facilitated ongoing engagement with manufacturers to ensure that they are Brexit ready, to identify potential issues which could affect supply, and to identify solutions to maintain supply to the market. The overall message from industry has been that Brexit planning has been underway for some time and is very well advanced.

The HSE and HPRA are engaged in a criticality assessment exercise to scope out the key risk areas and focus contingency planning efforts on vulnerable product lines. Medicines shortages do arise from time to time and there is already in place a well-established multi-stakeholder mechanism to prevent and react to medicine shortages in Ireland. The two main medicines wholesalers, who account for approximately 80% of medicines supplied in Ireland, have indicated that they typically keep a number of weeks of buffer or bridging stock. Work to mitigate supply chains is well underway and will continue for many months.

Government Support for Business

In Budgets 2017, 2018 and 2019, Government put in place a suite of business supports to help businesses to prepare for Brexit.
On 24 January 2019 Minister Humphries met with Commissioner Vestager and discussed the challenges facing Irish Businesses. Government officials will continue to work closely with EU officials in addressing any state aid issues that may arise. The Commission’s contingency action plan expressly states that “the Commission will support Ireland in finding solutions addressing the specific challenges of Irish businesses”.

Retail, Grocery & Distribution

Minister Humphries hosted two Brexit Roundtables with the Irish Retail Grocery and Distribution Sector on 13 December and 24 January. These provided for useful discussions on some of the challenges facing and Brexit preparedness in the Retail Sector. These roundtables were in addition to the existing Retail Consultation Forum which is also convened by Minister Humphries.

Recent Brexit engagement events

The most recent phase of the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready campaign, which informs citizens and businesses about how they can prepare for Brexit, including availing of Government advice and supports, saw over 2,500 attend six seminars across the country in October and November.
Currently there are numerous sectoral events taking place every week to support businesses in preparing for Brexit. Of particular note, Revenue has begun a Trader Engagement Programme to assist businesses in preparing for Brexit. Full information of all events is available on dfa.ie/Brexit.

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