Devil will be in the detail in Brexit negotiations - Creed
It is welcome to see clarity on a certain core of critical issues that would impact on the Irish economy, particularly the agri-food sector, in the UK’s position papers on Brexit, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said.
Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland on Thursday, he said that what’s abundantly clear is that once these documents are pitched at the EU negotiating team, they’re also targeting the UK business stakeholders.
“I think it’s very interesting if you look at specific content in the document on customs arrangements, where it says that the document is intended to be the start of a wider dialogue with both business and other stakeholders ahead of negotiations in the autumn.
“So I think what they’re doing now, albeit belatedly but welcome nonetheless, is also engaging with business.”
I think the fact that the business voice in the UK is going to be increasingly heard is something that could be beneficial for us.
Minister Creed said that there is some comfort in the document in that, for the first time, there is a coherent voice from the UK cabinet on the fact that they’ve identified the need for a transitional arrangement.
“Now previously we’ve heard different voices saying that it could all be wrapped up within the two-year time frame.
“For the first time, we have a detailed commitment about avoiding a cliff-edge, the hard Brexit scenario, where you go from the current arrangement to an entirely new one or a situation where they fall out of the EU without agreement. That poses enormous challenges for business.
“The commitment that’s in there for transitional arrangement, I think is welcome.
“The devil is going to be in the detail, what we’re talking about in these documents is broad principles identified and I think, in so far as they’re identifying the need for transitional arrangements for business to acclimatise and a lead-in time for the new arrangements, that’s welcome.”
The critical issue will be what the new arrangements are going to be and Minister Creed said the Irish Government is unapologetic in asking for them to be as close as possible to the current arrangements.
Common transit convention
Meanwhile, a commitment to the common transit convention by the UK is also welcome, according to Minister Creed.
“We have, at the moment, a situation where an awful lot of our goods, particularly agri-food, export from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, down through the UK, across the channel tunnel and into other EU markets.
“That is critical to us and that’s facilitated through the common transit convention.
“Of course, the UK is saying, particularly in the context of Northern Ireland, that Northern Ireland products sometimes transit through the Republic into mainland UK and onwards via the channel tunnel to the EU. While UK goods transit through mainland Europe to third-country markets.”
Minister Creed said that one of the very interesting specific aspects on agriculture that’s identified in the north-south document that was published, is the issue of regulatory equivalence.
“What they’re talking about is that a solution to this would be that the same regulatory standards would apply in Northern Ireland as they do in the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s not an enormous quantum leap to have that regulatory equivalence apply across the entire of the UK with the EU in the area of agri-food.
“That would obviously limit their capacity in certain respects to do the trade agreements that they want to do with third-country markets as a standalone country, but regulatory equivalence and recognition of that issue is also very significant.”