Border check notifications and no-deal preparations to be ‘accelerated’

Plans are in place to reduce the time period for notifications of imports subject to border checks to 24 hours, using roll-on roll-off ferries, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has confirmed.

Speaking in the Dail yesterday evening (Wednesday, February 27), the minister outlined what his department is doing in terms of preparing for Brexit.

“With the impending approach of the March 29 deadline, we are accelerating our no-deal preparations.

‘Accelerating preparations’

“The Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union [Consequential Provisions] Bill is a key part of that work.”

The minister noted that the bill covers the primary legislative issues that need to be addressed immediately in the event of a no-deal Brexit, “ensuring that key measures and protections are in place” – but noted that no part of it covers the remit of his department.

He explained that this is because of the amount of EU-level policies implemented by his department, needing EU-level decision-making – but assured that the Department of Agriculture is nonetheless heavily involved in Brexit preparation.

I will be laying at least one Statutory Instrument before the Houses to reduce the time period for notification of imports subject to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks to 24 hours for imports using roll-on roll-off ferries.

“Legislation is just one element of our preparations. I also have been sensitising other member states and the European Commission to the potentially very severe impacts of Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors, and to the likelihood of specific supports being required in order to deal with these impacts.”

Following detailed department analysis on worst-case scenario implications for agri-food, the minister said that the estimated cost of potential tariffs for the sector as a whole is €1.7 billion, based on Irish agri-food exports to the United Kingdom of €4.8 billion in 2016.

“The decision as to how and when the UK might impose tariffs on imports from the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit is a matter for the UK government.”

The minister also commented on recent meetings with EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan and fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella.

“We discussed the unique exposure of these sectors to the threat and the challenges that it could present.

“I stressed the need to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors.”

These will include:
  • Traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the CAP’s Single Common Market Organisation regulation;
  • Increased flexibility under State Aid regulations;
  • A common approach to managing fisheries and additional funding under the EMFF.

“Our preparations also include intensive work, in conjunction with other Government departments, to ensure that trade continues to flow through our ports and airports in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“Work in this regard has been focused on three key areas, namely, infrastructure, staffing and information technology, and in three key locations, that is Dublin Port, Rosslare Port and Dublin Airport.

“On staffing, we are in the process of recruiting and redeploying staff required to carry out the range of controls needed. These controls are carried out by a combination of portal inspectorate staff with appropriate veterinary and technical supervision.

The department is working very effectively with customs and others to provide the resources needed to apply the necessary controls and I am confident that the State will be in a position to apply controls at the appropriate time.

“On information technology, my department has established a project to coordinate the identification and delivery of ICT infrastructure and systems to support the additional requirements of staff engaged in control processes in Dublin Port, Rosslare and Dublin Airport,” Minister Creed said.