While ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement is still the Government's primary objective, preparations are continuing for all scenarios.
For example, my Department, as part of the whole-of-Government approach to Brexit, has been very active in relation to preparedness for import controls that will be required when the UK becomes a Third Country. The focus in this regard is on fulfilling its legal obligations as efficiently as possible, while also ensuring the minimum possible disruption to trading arrangements.
My Department has also sharpened its Brexit communications strategy in order to keep stakeholders informed and to encourage them to take the necessary steps to allow their trading arrangements with the UK to continue. Key elements here include an updated website, call centre and central e-mail address, streamlined registration arrangements and increased presence on social media.
In order to help mitigate the impacts on the sector, I have introduced a number of budgetary measures over the last three years aimed at helping farmers and the agrifood sector to improve competitiveness, and to support market and product diversification.
I have met with Commissioner Hogan to discuss the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on farmers and the agrifood sector, and have stressed the need to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors. Commissioner Hogan has confirmed the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
While the immediate prospect of a no-deal Brexit has waned, my officials are continuing to deepen and broaden preparatory arrangements in order to ensure that our state of readiness is maintained and enhanced against the backdrop of what continues to be an uncertain political environment.