Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Questions (152)

Lisa Chambers


152. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he will take to intensify Ireland’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit in view of the decision by the UK Parliament to seek changes to the withdrawal agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5553/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government remains firmly of the view that the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal and protect the Good Friday Agreement is to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, agreed between the EU and the British Government.

The EU has consistently made clear that it stands by the Withdrawal Agreement. It is not for renegotiation and there can be no Withdrawal Agreement without the backstop.

A no deal Brexit would be highly disruptive and would have profound political, economic and legal implications, most significantly for the UK, as well as for Ireland and the rest of the EU. In light of ongoing political uncertainties in the UK and the Brexit deadline of 29 March, the Government at its meeting of 11 December, agreed that, while work on Brexit preparedness for the central case scenario should continue, greater immediate priority must now be given to preparations for a no deal Brexit.

Following this, the Government published its Brexit Contingency Action Plan on 19 December which sets out detailed sectorial analyses and approaches to mitigating the impacts of a no deal Brexit. Ireland's Action Plan is consistent with and complementary to the approach being taken at EU27 level to prepare for the UK's withdrawal.

Work has been undertaken across Government to screen all Irish legislation currently in force to identify areas where legislative amendment will be required in the context of a no deal Brexit.

Further to this, Cabinet met on 3,15, 22 and 29 January to discuss and approve a single Omnibus Bill, known officially as the Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill 2019.

The General Scheme or Heads of this Bill were published on Thursday, 24 January, and are made up of 17 Parts prepared by 9 Ministers. It prioritises those areas that need to be addressed urgently and immediately through primary legislation, focusing on the broad themes of protecting the citizen, and supporting the economy, enterprise and jobs.

It is intended to publish the full text of the Omnibus Bill on 22 February 2019. The Government will work closely with all the opposition parties and Oireachtas members to seek their cooperation in ensuring that the necessary Brexit related legislation will be concluded in a timely manner and in advance of 29 March 2019.

As part of this ongoing work, I will brief the Working Group of Committee Chairs on the General Scheme of the Bill next Wednesday, [13] February. Ministers will also brief relevant sectorial Committees.

In addition to the legislative work underway, Government has since the beginning of January considered Memos outlining challenges and possible mitigation measures on key sectors affected by a no deal Brexit. Our discussions to date have covered a range of key matters including transport connectivity, continuity of supply of medicines, macroeconomic impacts, and implications for agrifood and fisheries.

Public engagements in preparation for a no deal Brexit have intensified including, for example, a focused outreach to traders led by the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. An update to the Contingency Action Plan was published on 30 January 2019, at a meeting of the Brexit Stakeholder Forum, which also received an update on the intensified work underway.