The Bill is an essential part of getting Ireland ready for the changes we will face when the transition ends in less than one month's time. Last year, this House considered the 2019 Brexit omnibus Act, which made provision to address issues that would arise should the UK leave the EU with no deal. The conclusion of the withdrawal agreement meant that many provisions of the 2019 Act could not be commenced. Ireland strongly welcomes the certainty the withdrawal agreement brings. The protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland is an integral part of the withdrawal agreement. It avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, ensures that trade and goods will continue to flow freely on this island and ensures access for Northern Irish goods to the EU Single Market.
It is incumbent on all parties to ensure that the provisions of the withdrawal agreement and protocols, which were agreed less than a year ago, are applied in full. The withdrawal agreement provides structures for handling issues with the implementation of the protocol. These are the only appropriate way to deal with the outstanding questions. It is welcome that face-to-face talks continue in London. Ireland continues to support Michel Barnier and the task force in their work on concluding an agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. The time to reach an agreement is very short but a deal cannot come at any price. To get a deal, there will have to be compromises on both sides. The EU approach has been very consistent: there must be a level playing field for open and fair competition for our businesses, and a fair and balanced outcome on negotiations relating to fisheries. We have also been clear that any requirement requires the full implementation of the withdrawal agreement. I am in ongoing contact with Michel Barnier and Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, who is the EU co-chair of the joint committee overseeing the implementation of the protocol. Both remain acutely aware of our positions, I can assure the House of that.
Even if a deal is concluded, however, the end of the transition period will bring significant and lasting change for citizens and businesses. From 1 January, the UK will no longer apply EU law, which will significantly change the way in which the EU and the UK engage into the future. We used the transition period to recalibrate and refine the readiness work carried out ahead of the possible no-deal Brexit in March and October 2019 and in January 2020. In September, the Government launched its Brexit readiness action plan, which sets out the actions the Government will take, and that businesses and citizens must also take, to address the changes arising at the end of the transition period. Probably the most significant of these changes will be the UK moving outside the Single Market and the customs union. This means new controls and procedures must be applied to any goods moving to, from or through Great Britain, processes that do not apply today. Perhaps the clearest example of what this means is that Revenue estimates that import and export declarations could increase from 1.7 million a year to 20 million a year next year.
The action plan has been accompanied by an intensified programme of trader engagement. Since it was launched, more than 50 separate ministerial engagements have dealt with Brexit. These were supported by a range of official meetings and briefings. We are using a multitude of virtual tools, from webinars to instructional videos, to assist businesses in preparing for the new realities they will face next year. The Tánaiste has sent a Brexit readiness checklist to 225,000 businesses registered in Ireland. Revenue, separately, has written to more than 90,000 businesses trading with the UK and followed up with more than 14,000 phone calls. We have made a range of financial, upskilling and advisory supports available to businesses. Budget 2021 allocated €340 million to Brexit-related measures. In response to a specific demand from industry, the July jobs stimulus package included a €20 million ready-for-customs package to assist with hiring and training staff in the customs area, where so much work will be involved in getting ready.
Preparations in our ports and airports are also well advanced. In addition to the new infrastructure, we have invested in new staff and ICT systems. Some 1,500 additional staff will be engaged in supporting and carrying customs, sanitary and phytosanitary, SPS, and food safety checks and controls. In Dublin Port alone, we have spent more than €30 million to date on physical infrastructure, preparing for the new realities. We are working closely with the European Commission to ensure that the €5 billion Brexit adjustment reserve will target the sectors and member states most disproportionately impacted by Brexit, and that certainly includes Ireland.
Senators will be aware of the complex issues that will arise for citizens and businesses post transition. The Government's readiness approach comprises a range of policy and economic responses and targeted Brexit-related resources. Primary legislation is again required to support a number of these measures. As was the case last year, an omnibus Bill is considered the most effective mechanism to address the legislative needs. The 2020 Brexit omnibus Bill before the House contains 22 Parts under the remit of 11 Ministers, and I am again the overall sponsoring Minister for this legislation. While similar to the 2019 Act, this Bill has a different point of departure. The 2019 Act catered primarily for the possibility of a disorderly UK withdrawal from the EU, whereas this Bill deals with the permanent changes that will take effect from 1 January 2021. We have a deal on Brexit that has facilitated the exit of the UK from the EU; we do not have a future relationship or a trade agreement that can manage that future relationship.
This is a diverse Bill, but its overarching purpose is to protect citizens, consumers and businesses. It aims to reduce the possibility of serious economic disturbance and to facilitate the sound functioning of a number of key sectors. Equally important, it is also contains a number of provisions that support aspects of the common travel area, CTA, and North-South co-operation. Protecting citizens, North and South, is at the heart of the Bill. It makes provision in very important areas as varied as student grants, social welfare payments, divorce arrangements, cross-Border bus services, defamation and the national childcare scheme. It will protect employees in Ireland if their employers become insolvent under UK law. A number of provisions also seek to protect and maintain the common travel area and broader UK-Ireland relations. It will support ongoing co-operation in healthcare between the UK and Ireland. Furthermore, in case access to the European health insurance card, EHIC, programme is not addressed in any future partnership agreement, Part 3 of the Bill will provide for the introduction of an EHIC-like scheme for people in Northern Ireland. Parts 16 to 18, inclusive, deal with a range of justice and immigration issues, including provisions for extradition on the basis of the 1957 Council of Europe convention, exempting UK citizens from passport checks within the CTA and the designation of safe third countries for the purposes of returns of applicants for international protection whose applications are deemed inadmissible and where appropriate safeguards are in place, in line with international law.
We are keenly aware of the impact the end of the transition period will have on businesses. Several parts of the Bill seek to minimise disruption to our economy and business sector. Part 8 includes a number of measures in respect of taxation that will allow businesses and citizens to continue to access measures and reliefs as today in areas such as income tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax and stamp duty. Specific anti-avoidance provisions are also included.
The Bill includes provisions to introduce postponed accounting of VAT to alleviate potential cash flow issues by allowing businesses trading with the UK extra time to make their VAT returns. This measure has been requested by a number of business representative bodies. Changes will also be made to the operation of the VAT retail export scheme. In response to requests to consider the threshold for the scheme, the Government amendment at Committee Stage in the Dáil reduced that threshold from €175 to €75. That was a particular ask from Opposition parties and was a concern raised within Government as well. I hope that reduction of the threshold will be welcomed.
There was confusion in the Dáil debate regarding an amendment that the Labour Party tabled in Deputy Howlin's name, which was supported by Sinn Féin, seeking a review of that measure in a year's time to see how it is working. That amendment was not accepted but there is a commitment from the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, to carry out that review. I reassure Senators that the Government will undertake that review over the next 12 months to see how that is impacting on the retail sector, trading and so on. I give that commitment on the floor of the House because it will be difficult for the Government to accept any amendments at this point without having to go back to the Dáil. Unless there is something really exceptional, it will be difficult for me or other Ministers to accept amendments. That was the only amendment there was any real disagreement on in the Dáil and the Minister for Finance has given a commitment to doing that review. Hopefully, that will allay concerns as we move to Committee and Report Stages on Thursday.
Part 11 makes a number of amendments to the Customs Act to support the operation of the customs online roll-on roll-off service. This new service will be required to handle a substantial increase in non-EU trade from the end of the transition period, coming from the UK.
The Bill also deals with issues relating to existing insurance contracts, settlement systems for financial services contracts and the employment permit scheme. It contains provisions on technical issues relating to professional qualifications in specialized fields such as fluorinated greenhouse gases and harbour pilotage services, as well as for market surveillance in the field of construction products. This is trying to ensure that we anticipate trade disruption as best we can and legislate for it where we can and where we have a national competence, rather than an EU directive. The provisions in the Bill will be complemented by a number of measures in secondary legislation, that is, ministerial orders, which will also be adopted before the end of the year.
In 30 days' time, many aspects of our relationship with the UK will change fundamentally and permanently. Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, we remain strongly committed to protecting and strengthening the relationship with our closest neighbour. Our immediate priority, however, is to prepare for the changes that will arise on 1 January. This includes passing all Stages of the Bill in a timely fashion to be ready for enactment and commencements before 31 December. After Second Stage today, Committee and Remaining Stages will take place this week on Thursday. My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Thomas Byrne, will be here for the debate because I need to be in Paris on Thursday.
I want to thank the Cathaoirleach and Senators for their co-operation in facilitating the passage of this Bill and the timetable that we have asked them to accommodate. I thank them also for their co-operation, assistance and support throughout the Brexit process to date. I remember bringing a similar piece of legislation to this House in 2019 and got extraordinary co-operation and we had a good discussion and debate on it. I ask for that co-operation again. This is important stuff and 1 January is going to bring about some fundamental change and disruption, for which we need to be as prepared as we possibly can. We owe that to citizens, businesses, consumers and to many people that effectively are stakeholders in the British-Irish relationship in terms of the business that they do, the family circumstances that they have and many other relationships that will be affected by the end of transition at the close of the year. I thank Senators for their co-operation and I hope I can continue to rely on it as we conclude the debate on the legislation this week.