The Seanad Brexit Committee Report can guide the way for the Government as we approach Phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations. That’s according to the Chair of the Committee and Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond.
“Today is a good day for Ireland with Phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations completed, with all of Ireland’s key goals achieved.
“With assurances for Ireland on the Good Friday Agreement, the Common Travel Area and, crucially, the prevention of a hard border on the island of Ireland, the EU and the UK can now move on to Phase 2 of the negotiations.
“This summer the Seanad Special Select Committee on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, of which I am Chair, launched its report.
“The report entitled, ‘Brexit: Implications and Potential Solutions’ dealt in detail with many of the issues that are about to arise in Phase 2 of the negotiations.
“One of our key findings was in relation to the EU-UK-US open skies agreement. The report recommends that separate EU-UK and US-UK Open Skies Agreements will need to be agreed to replace the current EU-US Open Skies arrangements, to which the UK will no longer be a party, a new agreement is needed before spring 2018. This is essential to ensure that air routes for 2018 / 2019 are not adversely impacted. As an island nation with an air bridge to the UK, we are extremely exposed to any disruption to flight connectivity, so it is vital that an agreement is reached.
“In terms of transport, the Seanad Brexit Committee heard that bus services crossing the border are likely to face significant challenges as a result of the UK exit from the European Union, as are trains and taxis. It is important that any post-Brexit regulation should reflect, as close as possible, the provisions which allow for regular cross-border passenger services conducive to an all-island economy.
“On the issue of energy supply, we had recommended that in the event of a hard Brexit, the most obvious solution is the completion of the Celtic Interconnector between Ireland and France, which would reduce Ireland’s reliance on the UK. While we are very hopeful now that a hard Brexit can be avoided the Interconnector should still be progressed for the benefit of all involved.
“Our report also strongly advocated that PEACE and INTERREG programmes should be retained to support the continuance of cross-border and cross-community initiatives following Brexit. I was pleased to hear the Taoiseach state this morning that this funding which is so valuable to our border communities will continue until 2021 and we will favourably examine continuing it beyond that. This is vital to the peace process and ensuring political stability in Northern Ireland. A continued financial support for the two schemes will have to be explored with the UK along the model that already exists for INTERREG programmes with third countries.”
“Work on Irish issues will continue to be an important part of negotiations in phase two of the Brexit negotiations. Given that the Seanad Brexit report dealt in detail with many of the issues that are about to arise in that context, it is my hope that it can guide the Government’s position as the EU and UK approach Phase two.
“While we still very much regret the UK decision to leave the EU, and I have said all along that there are more negatives than positives, the Government will keep working to achieve the best possible outcome for the island of Ireland, our citizens and our economy.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
- In recognition of the potential consequences of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the Seanad established a Special Select Committee to consider the implications for Ireland and to suggest some possible solutions to identifiable problems.
- In order to support its thinking and considerations, the Committee organised nine days of public hearings with former Taoisigh, former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, sectoral experts, representative organisations, local authorities, all-Island bodies and many more.
- Read the report here.