Since the result of the UK referendum on EU membership in 2016, a number of steps have been taken to build up the resilience of the economy so that we have the capacity to deal with adverse economic shocks. These steps include building up our fiscal buffers by balancing our books, reducing our debt burden and establishing the Rainy Day Fund. The steady increase in public spending implemented in recent years, with a particular focus on public capital investment, plays an important role in supporting resilience in the face of Brexit, and dedicated measures to prepare for Brexit have been announced in successive Budgets.
Most recently Budget 2019 set out a number of specific measures aimed at making Ireland Brexit ready, based on a central case scenario. These included the introduction the €300 million Future Growth Loan Scheme to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment by business at competitive rates; a €71 million package for the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and its agencies, Teagasc and Bord Bia, to further strengthen the agriculture sector’s resilience; an increase of €14 million to the current allocation for the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation to enable it to continue to plan for the impact of Brexit on the business sector; and €5 million for the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade to enable it to continue to address the challenges posed by Brexit across a range of headings.
As part of a whole of government response to Brexit, extensive preparedness and contingency planning has been underway across all Departments and agencies since the UK referendum. Within my own Department a dedicated Brexit Unit supports me in my work on Brexit, leads work across the Department, and represents the Department on the various groups that coordinate's the Government's response to Brexit. My officials work closely with relevant colleagues in agencies under the Department’s remit to ensure we are prepared to the greatest extent possible for all Brexit outcomes.