Across Government Departments significant work is ongoing to ensure all necessary supports will be available to enterprise regarding a wide variety of Brexit implications. Provision in the revised estimates for financial support is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.
In relation to State Aid, my Department and its agencies have been working closely with the EU Commission and DG Competition since November 2017 through the Irish/EU Technical Working Group on State Aid. The objective of the Group is to scope and design schemes to support enterprises across various sectors, impacted by Brexit in line with State Aid rules. Much has been achieved by this Working Group. It has examined and explored a range of opportunities within State Aid rules including the development of the Future Growth Loan Scheme under General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) rules and the expansion of Ireland’s Rescue and Restructuring Scheme to include Temporary liquidity aid and to increase the budget for the Rescue & Restructuring Scheme to €200 million.
Through the mechanism of the Technical Working Group Ireland has fully utilised the provisions of the State Aid framework to enable the investment by Enterprise Ireland of €74 million in Brexit impacted businesses in 2018.
The Group is currently working closely with DG Agriculture to explore the range of opportunities under the Agriculture and Forestry State aid guidelines, and as part of this State Aid approval was received in February for capital investment by Enterprise Ireland in an Irish cheese producing company, Carbery Food Ingredients Ltd, to help the company towards financing a diversification project to mitigate the impacts of Brexit. The Group met most recently in Brussels last week.
On 24th January 2019, I met with the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager. The focus of the meeting centred around the severe challenges that Irish businesses will face when the UK leaves the EU and the need for appropriate and timely State supports. It was agreed that Irish officials will continue to work closely with the Commissioner's team in addressing any State aid issues that may arise to ensure a rapid and appropriate response as the ultimate shape of Brexit and its firm-level implication become known. The Commissioner emphasised that the Commission stands ready to act urgently in mitigation against the impacts of Brexit on Irish firms.