15 September 2020
By Mary Bermingham
“We are at a critical stage in negotiations on the future relationship with the United Kingdom.” says Cork based Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael)
MEP for Ireland South Deirdre Clune has said Ireland is at a “critical stage” in negotiations on the future relationship with the United Kingdom. MEP Clune was speaking to representatives of the Freight Transport Association Ireland.
MEP Clune said: “We have seen the UK government introduce controversial legislation that would undermine what was agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement. As I have said before the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol must be protected and peace on the island of Ireland not threatened. The EU has come to the table many times in good faith and with a view to securing a future partnership that respects standards in the EU and also the hard earned peace in Northern Ireland.”
The UK is a huge trade partner for Ireland. Around 10% of Irish exports go to the UK, over €12 billion in 2019. The UK purchases 51% of Ireland’s beef exports, 37.2% of Ireland’s food and drink exports and 58.9% of Ireland’s iron and steel exports. Not only this but Ireland is also heavily reliant on the United Kingdom as a route of passage from Ireland to the EU and vice versa. No other country in the EU has the same reliance on the UK as Ireland.
“We know that the land bridge and the connectivity to the EU are vital to our economy. And drivers passing through the UK back and forth to the EU must be allowed to make that journey. Many Irish hauliers business models depend on being able to do multiple operations on a trip through the UK, without which it puts a lot of businesses at risk
“The threat of no deal looms which could prove potentially very damaging for Ireland as we deal with the economic consequences of a global pandemic. When faced with the no deal scenario in March of 2019, a series of contingency measures were drawn up and voted through the European Parliament, for which I was the lead negotiator for the EPP group, for the event of a no-deal Brexit which would have at least ensured basic connectivity for six months following a no-deal. However, these measures expired in December 2019.
“I have spoken with Irish freight, passenger and logistics industry representatives who underlined the need for early reassurance that such contingency measures will be in place should they be needed. Freight and haulage companies will need time to prepare for adaptation to any change in rules or we could face potential blockages in road freight transport. I am calling on the European Commission to work to provide these assurances.”