The European Commission has launched a new online portal to highlight in detail all the work that has gone into Brexit preparedness, according to North Cork Fine Gael Councillor John Paul O’Shea.
Cllr. O’Shea said: “The new portal will be a very useful port of call for farmers and agri-food operators who want to find out more about the EU supports available [The new portal is located at – https://ec.europa.eu/info/
“As Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, the Government is particularly aware of the potential impact a Hard-Brexit could have on the Agri-Food Sector across Ireland and in County Cork where it is such an important industry.
“Both the Departments of Agriculture and Business are working closely with officials in the European Commission in respect of flexibilities under both State aid rules and the common agricultural policy.
“Any tariff regime would be extremely serious for Irish exporters, particularly for agri-food exports. That is why we have worked so hard to secure the Withdrawal Agreement that would enable both sides to negotiate a future relationship agreement with the aim of avoiding tariffs and quotas.
“Minister Creed has been working on this issue for some time, and the EU are well aware of the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on Ireland’s economy. This has been part of the discussions from the very start of the Brexit process.
“The EU’s Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, has reiterated the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland, and we will remain in contact on these issues as the situation evolves. Indeed, the UK‘s announcement coincides with further discussions taking place at official level between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Commission in this regard.
“The European Commission also announced that it has given State Aid approval for national investment in an Irish cheese producing company, Carbery Food Ingredients Ltd.
“The Government will not be found wanting when it comes to supporting the Irish agri-food sector and farmers in County Cork when it comes to Brexit. Unfortunately, however there is no such thing as a good Brexit and preparedness cannot mitigate all of the impacts of a hard Brexit should it occur.”
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said: “This is not the first time Irish agriculture has faced a risk of large proportions. In my political lifetime we have had to deal with BSE, foot and mouth, and the recent markets crisis arising from the Russian embargo.
“In all these cases, the Commission dipped into its toolbox to offer strong support, and Brexit will be no different – the same instruments are in place and ready to be deployed.
“There is recognition across the EU of Ireland’s vulnerability in relation to Brexit, particularly our beef sector. There must be additional support available for Irish famers. Irish agri-food companies have already been granted state aid relief. My services are making good progress on putting structures in place for transport and logistics, SPS issues, customs checks and all related challenges.”