Brexit presents very serious challenges for the agri-food and fisheries sectors, despite the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) reached between the EU and the UK.
While the TCA avoids the worst outcomes of a No Deal Brexit - notably tariffs and the complete exclusion of our fishing vessels from UK waters - there are very significant concerns about the impact of the agreement on the fisheries sector and on fishing communities.
In addition, since 1st January 2021, the UK has been outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union. This means that new procedures must be followed by businesses moving goods to, from or through the UK, excluding Northern Ireland, as they must comply with customs, sanitary and phytosanitary, and other regulatory requirements. These non-tariff barriers will result in increased costs for businesses, with potential knock-on effects on prices paid to farmers and on farm incomes. These impacts will continue to be closely monitored by my Department.
My Department’s Brexit preparedness work has included the provision of supports to the sector over multiple budgets. Last week, a first call for applications was announced under the Enterprise Ireland-led €100 million capital investment scheme agreed by Government at the end of 2020 for companies engaged in the processing and marketing of primary meat and dairy products in recognition of the sector’s unique exposure to the impact of Brexit.
We will continue to monitor the impacts of Brexit on the agri-food and fisheries sectors, and the Government stands ready to support those sectors as they adapt to the new realities created by the UK's departure from the EU.