Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Questions (247, 248)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

247. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department has commissioned economic or regulatory impact assessments of the risks to sectors under the purview of his Department following the decision of the UK to exit the EU and the various types of future relationships that might result; if he will provide a copy of such studies conducted; the persons or body commissioned to conduct this research; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6300/18]

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Brendan Howlin

Question:

248. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the additional budget for 2018 or other years, provided to his Department and all agencies and bodies within his remit to plan or prepare for Brexit; the number of additional staff who have been recruited to work on this policy area in each body, agency and his Department; the number of dedicated staff planning and working on Brexit matters in each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6317/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 and 248 together.

While the outcome of the December European Council and the move on to Phase 2 has marked  progress in dealing with the UK's withdrawal form the European Union, contingency planning is advancing through the cross-Departmental coordination structures chaired by the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade. This work is also informed by ongoing stakeholder engagement. Separately, a new preparedness unit in the European Commission is considering EU-level responses.

The Government’s contingency planning continues to be firmly grounded in the extensive work and outreach that has already been undertaken by individual Departments and agencies, as well as by stakeholder organisations, academics and others.  Much of this is in the public domain.

As the outcome of the negotiations is not yet known, an important focus of the planning and preparation being undertaken through these structures is on deepening the Government’s analysis and understanding of the exact consequences of a range of different possible scenarios.

My Department held a very successful public All Island Brexit Civic Dialogue on Energy in February 2017 in Boyle, Co. Roscommon.  A further Civic Dialogue to address the concerns of the energy industry took place in October 2017.  My Department has regular meetings with stakeholders across its remit, which afford it an opportunity for intelligence gathering and discussion of issues stakeholders identify in relation to Brexit.

Research concerning “Cyber Security and Infrastructural Interdependencies” was completed for my Department in June last year. For confidentiality purposes this research will not be published.

In June 2017 my Department engaged external consultants to consider “the potential implications of Brexit on the National Broadband Plan”. The Department has yet to receive the final version of this report.

Independent research specific to energy has been published, though not commissioned by my Department. However, there have also been a number of other papers and reports published on these issues, including by the ESRI and IBEC

My Department has identified energy as the highest priority sector and has published on its website a summary of Brexit energy priorities.

(http://www.dccae.gov.ie/documents/Brexit%20and%20the%20Irish%20Energy%20Sector.pdf.).  Principal amongst the issues identified by my Department are maintenance of secure energy trading between the UK and EU Member States and maintaining the Single Electricity Market across the island of Ireland. The focus of my Department is on seeking to identify the risks and opportunities that may emerge as a result of Brexit and to develop appropriate strategies for these.

Potential impact on any sector will depend largely on the shape of the future relationship between the EU and UK.  As the negotiations are ongoing, it is not possible to provide a detailed assessment.

The focus of my Department is on seeking to identify the risks and opportunities that may emerge as a result of Brexit and to develop appropriate strategies for these.

A range of measures, as outlined above have been undertaken and funded from within existing resources in my Department. All costs relating to Brexit activities in my Department are met by existing budgets.

No specific Brexit related funding has been provided to the Agencies which are funded under the remit of my Department.

The information requested regarding staffing in the agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each Agency funded by the Department. I will request those relevant bodies to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested in respect of their organisation.