The Deputy will be aware that Brexit has implications across almost all sectors of the economy. Since the UK referendum, Brexit is an integral part of business planning in the Department of Finance and issues relating to Brexit are mainstreamed across all divisions of my Department. In this context, I meet and engage on an ongoing basis with my officials on issues linked to Brexit. The objective of my approach as Minister for Finance is to protect the economic and financial interests of the state and to support the work of the Revenue Commissioners so as to minimise disruption to trade to the greatest extent possible. These objectives are being advanced under four priority headings which are developing appropriate economic and budgetary policy advice; safeguarding financial stability through engagement with the CBI and the NTMA; assuring continued funding of the State by the NTMA and supporting the work of the Revenue Commissioners in the areas of customs, direct and indirect tax.
On the question as to what level of engagement I have had with the insurance industry in relation to Brexit, the Deputy should note that my colleague Minister of State D’Arcy has immediate responsibility, within my Department, for Financial Services and Insurance. As such while I have not had direct discussions with the industry, Minister D'Arcy has had a significant level of engagement, both with individual insurance companies, and with insurance industry bodies, during which Brexit has been discussed. This has included speaking at events held by insurance representative bodies, where Brexit related issues were on the agenda. In addition, I would note that the IFS2020 Strategy allows for structured dialogue with industry at the quarterly Joint Committee meetings, chaired by Minister of State D’Arcy, at which Brexit is a standing item on the agenda. My officials have also had close engagement with the insurance industry through various fora since the outcome of the 2016 UK referendum, where Brexit as an issue would have been raised.
It should be noted that the insurance industry has been clear from the outset of the potential difficulties that a hard Brexit may cause to policyholders and claimants from a contract continuity perspective. This has been conveyed through a range of forums including at EU level. However, the EU Commission has stated repeatedly that industry is responsible for ensuring that it is appropriately Brexit prepared. Accordingly, the Central Bank has engaged with the insurance industry and the UK regulatory authorities to ensure that this is the case and in a general sense this exercise has been successful.
My Department and the Central Bank have however been cognisant that not all insurers or brokers would be fully Brexit prepared and therefore since September have been considering what could be done to ensure that all policyholders are appropriately protected from a hard Brexit. The Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill 2019 , contains proposals which if enacted, will ensure that UK or Gibraltar authorised insurers will be deemed to have a limited authorisation for a period of three years after withdrawal. This will therefore allow policies written prior to Brexit in relation to risks in the State come under scope of the ICF subject to the terms and conditions of the Fund.