Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (60)

James Browne

Question:

60. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position on his submission to the European Commission seeking the designation of Rosslare Europort as a border inspection post; when a response will be received from the European Union on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13394/19]

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Oral answers (6 contributions) (Question to Agriculture)

What is the position on the Minister's submission to the European Commission seeking the designation of Rosslare Europort as a border inspection post, although I understand such posts are now called border control posts? When will a response be received from the European Union on the matter?

The dossier requesting the approval of facilities located around Rosslare Europort as a border inspection post, BIP, was sent to the European Commission by my Department on 14 February. The Commission has subsequently communicated to my Department that it has approved the facilities to be designated as a BIP for the importation of products of animal origin for human consumption and products of animal origin not for human consumption, excluding bulk products and non-containerised liquids and oils. Officials from my Department are continuing to liaise with the Commission on the designation of Rosslare Europort facilities for the importation of live animals and that approval is still pending. We expect to receive an update on the application shortly.

If the United Kingdom takes third country status in the event that there is a hard Brexit, agrifood and fish products coming into this country will have to be inspected. The only port with such facilities is Dublin Port. A site was purchased or leased by the State approximately 2 km from Rosslare Europort. I raised the issue of the suitability of that site with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, a couple of weeks ago. It is located 2 km from the port and I asked how we would manage to protect the integrity of goods in moving from one place to the other. Did the European Union have a comment to make on the appropriateness of that facility? Does the Minister still believe it will be available on 29 March or 11 April, as the case may be, if there is a hard Brexit? If not, will all of the products coming to Rosslare Europort have to be diverted to Dublin Port until such time as the facilities are available at Rosslare Europort?

The procurement of the site is not a function of my Department. The Office of Public Works, OPW, would have been involved. I understand builders have been on the site since early February and we are satisfied that, although it may not be the Taj Mahal, it will be ready to function in the event that there is a hard Brexit. We were planning for a deadline of 29 March, but it will function from any date thereafter, if necessary. All of the infrastructural requirements have been met and staff appointments made, while the necessary back-up staffing arrangements are in place.

For the sake of clarity, the Minister is satisfied that the border control post will be up and running in a few weeks, with full approval from the European Union for goods to pass through that border control post at Rosslare Europort.