My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. My Department has been working closely with the EU Commission and DG Competition since November 2017 through the Irish/EU Technical Working Group on State Aid which was established following a meeting between my predecessor, Frances Fitzgerald and the Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager. The Group comprises senior representatives from DG Comp, my Department, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Enterprise Ireland. Its objective has been to scope and design schemes to support enterprises impacted by Brexit in line with State Aid rules.
Much has been achieved by this Working Group which last met at the end of last month. It has examined and explored a range of opportunities within State Aid rules which has resulted in the development of the Future Growth Loan Scheme, the expansion of Ireland’s Rescue and Restructuring Scheme to include Temporary liquidity aid, an increase in the budget for the Rescue & Restructuring Scheme to €200 million. Through the mechanism of the Technical Working Group Ireland has utilised the provisions of the State aid framework to enable the investment by Enterprise Ireland of €74 million in Brexit impacted businesses in 2018. Options available through the Agriculture Guidelines are also being developed to support large food companies. For example, earlier this year State aid approval was received with respect to an EI capital grant for Carbery, a dairy business based in Cork.
Earlier this year I met with Commissioner 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.
Should issues arise that require an approach that does not fit within the existing State aid rules, this will be raised as part of these Working Group discussions.