The agrifood sector is of critical importance to the Irish economy, and its regional spread means it underpins the socio-economic development of rural areas in particular. As such, Brexit has the potential to have a very significant impact on farmers and on the agrifood sector throughout Ireland.
At this stage, Ireland has not formally notified the Commission of its intention to seek emergency aid for the farming sector through the Agriculture Block Exemption Regulation. However, there are on-going discussions with the Commission regarding the difficulties facing Ireland, and all options are being considered, including those under the state aid rules and regulations governing the agriculture sector.
I held a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Hogan last week to discuss the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the Irish agrifood and fisheries sectors. We discussed the unique exposure of these sectors to the threat of a disorderly Brexit, and the challenges that it could present. I stressed the need to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors, including through traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the CAP's Single Common Market Organisation regulation, and increased flexibility under State Aid regulations. Commissioner Hogan reiterated the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland, and we will remain in contact on these issues as the situation evolves.