Any Brexit scenario will mean considerable change and impact for Ireland and extensive and detailed Brexit preparedness and contingency work is being taken forward, co-ordinated by officials in my Department, working closely with the Department of the Taoiseach, across all Government Departments and Agencies.
Our focus continues to be on ensuring an orderly UK withdrawal through ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement endorsed by the European Council on 25 November and agreed with the British Government.
However, it is only prudent for the Government to prepare for all scenarios. Departments continue to plan and prepare for both for the ‘central case’ scenario and a disorderly Brexit scenario and updated Departmental Action Plans have evolved and developed based on the changing situation. It is not possible to eliminate all risk but the Government is working at home and at EU level to mitigate damage to the greatest extent possible. We discussed next steps in this regard at Cabinet today.
The underlying strength and resilience of our economy is critical in ensuring that Ireland is in the best possible position to respond to the challenges that Brexit will bring and this has been a key factor in developing successive budgets including in Budget 2019.
The Government has already taken a number of key decisions on measures to be put in place for the necessary checks and controls for trade on an East-West basis. The recruitment of an additional 1,000 staff for customs and SPS controls, in addition to ICT and infrastructure measures at our ports and airports has been sanctioned and implementation is underway. Various contingency measures, such as the rapid recruitment and redeployment of staff, and the use of temporary facilities, are under active planning for a disorderly Brexit scenario.
Given that in a number of key areas for Ireland, the appropriate response and mitigation will be at the EU level, we are continuing to engage actively with the Commission on areas of priority for Ireland, including through a series of expert level meetings with the Commission and the EU27 on key issues on a weekly basis until mid-January.
The EU Commission acknowledged the particular impact of Brexit on Ireland and Irish business in its contingency planning communication of 13 November. This communication also outlined some of the EU’s plans for a no deal scenario, including in the areas of financial services, citizens’ rights, air transport, road transport, and customs / SPS requirements. This has further informed our own domestic planning.
Ireland is also working closely with the EU and fellow Member States to discuss and progress areas of key concern, including facilitating the use of the UK as a landbridge post Brexit.