Brexit poses enormous challenges for the agri-food and fisheries sectors by virtue of their exposure to the UK market. The focus of my Department's activities has been to simultaneously put in place supports to help the agrifood sector to deal with the impact of Brexit, while, at the same time, taking the practical steps to prepare for the range of control and other activities that will be required. This work has concentrated in particular over the last twelve months on the preparations for a no-deal Brexit, and there is now a renewed focus on both fine-tuning our arrangements ahead of 31 October and ensuring effective communication on the matter with all stakeholders.
Since the extension to 31 October was granted, my Department has used the time to continue our Brexit preparedness work, within a whole-of-Government effort, in order to ensure the best possible outcome for the agrifood sector. My Department has placed a heavy focus on improving our infrastructure facilities at Dublin and Rosslare Port and at Dublin airport, having the necessary staffing in place, and refining and testing our IT systems to ensure they are operating optimally in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
In addition, my Department, in collaboration with other Government Departments and agencies, continues to actively communicate with businesses trading with the UK and is encouraging relevant operators to register with the Department so that they are in a position to meet with the regulatory requirements required to continue trading with the UK post Brexit. My Department has prepared a Business Preparedness Checklist for the agri- sector and will host a series of stakeholder events on Brexit preparedness planning over the coming weeks.
I have also introduced a number of supports to assist the agri-food sector in preparing to address the challenges posed by Brexit over the last number of years, and the Government stands ready to respond to a possible hard Brexit through the implementation of measures that will seek to mitigate the impact on vulnerable sectors and groups.
Work on no-deal Brexit preparations is on-going and continues to receive the highest priority in my Department and across Government. We continue to work closely with the Commission, our EU partners, businesses and citizens to mitigate as far as possible the impacts of a no deal Brexit, and ensure that we are as prepared as we can be for the changes it will bring.