With just days left for the EU and UK to reach a deal before the end of the Transition period on the 31 December, ICOS President Jerry Long has this morning urged both sides to work hard to reach a conclusion to the negotiations, reminding that failure would be catastrophic for rural Ireland.
“We need now to encourage both the EU and UK to use these last few days to find solutions to the ongoing stalemate in talks. During the week ICOS met with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture to highlight the devastating impact for cooperatives, farmers and rural communities which would result, should these negotiations fail. We are now also calling now on Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who is over in Brussels today, meeting with EU Leaders, to encourage reconciliation and a pragmatic approach. The UK leaving the EU Single market and Customs Union at the end of the year without a trade deal in place, benefits no one. They must adopt a cooperative mindset- working together, finding the common ground, benefits us all.
“Yesterday we saw statements from the European Commission and UK Prime Minister, encouraging people and businesses to prepare for a no deal Brexit. A no deal Brexit however would mean the imposition of tariffs of a value of €1.5 billion on Irish agri-food exports each year- this is frankly impossible for the industry to prepare for. Considering the damage Brexit would do to the UK economy in return, it highly unlikely these costs could be recouped from the UK consumer- rather it will be Irish farmers that will pay.
“In addition, it is estimated that 12,500 jobs are at risk in the agri-food sector if the UK does leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union without a trade deal in place – and it is rural Ireland that will be chiefly hit. The jobs will be lost in our rural communities and the cost of tariffs taken from our rural economies, causing inestimable the long term damage.
“And while it is possible that if these talks fail, we could see a return to trade negotiations with the UK at a later point, what is sure is that those discussions would not be on the same terms as now – rather tariffs and quota restrictions on agri-food products would be part of the deal.
“We have one opportunity to secure the right deal and avoid a devastating outcome for rural Ireland. We therefore strongly urge Irish, EU and UK leaders and negotiators to find a resolution.