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Implications of Brexit for Irish agriculture addressed by Tom Tynan

Posted 30 September 2016

There is hardly anywhere in the EU where the issue has been such a live issue as it has been here on the island of Ireland. Trade with Britain is more important for Ireland than for any other member state".

Tom Tynan

Tom Tynan

At the recent Harper Adams in Ireland gathering in Portlaoise, the implications of Brexit for agriculture on the island of Ireland were addressed by Tom Tynan of the European Commission and the cabinet of Commissioner Hogan said

Mr Tynan said: 

"The intention appears to be that the Lisbon Treaty's Article 50 will not be triggered soon, perhaps not until the end of next year after the French and German elections. That notification to the EU will mark the commencement of a lengthy process.

Assuming that the withdrawal negotiations could be wrapped up within the prescribed two year period, it would seem likely that the UK would leave the EU sometime in 2019".

He added "In that context, the recent announcement by the UK chancellor, Philip Hammond that government support for farming would be sustained at present levels to 2020 is not as big a promise as it seems at first glance.  The UK chancellor at most is underwriting farm support for a number of months not years".

Mr. Tynan pointed out "Currently EU funding is agreed on the basis of a seven year rolling period.  It is unlikely that under a UK national system, the UK government would commit to this as most funding decisions extend over one or two years.  Even then they may be subject to change should the situation arise".

Looking specifically at Ireland, Mr. Tynan said "There is hardly anywhere in the EU where the issue has been such a live issue as it has been here on the island of Ireland.  Trade with Britain is more important for Ireland than for any other member state".  

He added "While Ireland will have a particular interest in the final BREXIT deal, the agreement will be between the EU and the UK".

Mr. Tynan noted that the Irish government and the Northern Ireland executive are working together to ensure that the benefits from the PEACE and INTERREG programmes are protected.

"These two programmes have seen investment of more than €3.5 billion in the North of Ireland and the border region over the past 25 years" he added

Speaking specifically about farming and agri-business Mr. Tynan said "Farmers and agri-business on this island have a strong interest in ensuring that the UK's withdrawal from the Union takes place in an orderly way.

An uncontrolled, abrupt withdrawal of the UK would risk having significant negative repercussions for our farming communities, particularly as regards trade in agricultural products between the UK and the remaining 27 Member States".

On the question of Trade, the cabinet member said

"The share of UK trade done with the rest of the EU is far greater than the share of EU trade done with the UK.  The EU will remain the UK's biggest trading partner.  Trade means jobs, for every €1 billion we get in exports, 14,000 extra jobs are created across the EU".

He added "The UK government will need to decide to what extent it wishes to support the UK agricultural industry via trade policy and at what cost to the UK consumer".

Looking at currency, Mr. Tynan said "Sterling has fallen a lot in the wake of the vote – 70p against the euro last November compared with 85p today.  That is a 20 per cent drop in a matter of months. 

This causes trouble for the Republic and takes Northern buyers out of the ring in cattle marts across the country.  Every cattle farmer in Ireland knows the importance of the Northern buyer".

Providing some assurance to Northern Ireland and UK farmers, Mr Tynan said 

"While I don't want to speculate on any possible outcome of the BREXIT negotiations and the political and economic landscape that may emerge thereafter, I can assure you that the European Commission will work closely with stakeholders to see what can be done to minimise any negative impact that may arise".

He added "In the meantime, Commissioner Hogan has assured farmers in the UK which of course includes Northern Ireland, that as long as the UK remains a member of the EU, those farmers will continue to enjoy the considerable benefits of EU membership, subject of course to them continuing to meet their obligations under the various schemes in which they are participating".

Harper Adams in Ireland is the association for past students of Harper Adams University (England) from the island of Ireland. The dinner was held in the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaois and attended by past, current and future students, university staff, association supporters and industry representatives. The night also including the presentation of the Victor Truesdale Award to Adams Montgomery, of County Monaghan. 

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