Moves by some EU member states to alter the calculation method for allocating the €5 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve is an “attempted cash grab which goes against the spirit of EU solidarity”, according to one Irish MEP.

Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey made the comments at the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries (PECH) today (Monday) where members discussed a draft opinion on the issue.

The Midlands North West MEP said he has serious concerns that any suggestion of a renegotiation of the Reserve could lead to Ireland’s €1 billion share slashed by hundreds of millions, adding:

“It’s widely accepted that Ireland is the member state most impacted by Brexit. Since the 2016 vote, the Irish government has committed in the region of €1 billion to mitigate its impact – and we will continue to incur significant costs in the years ahead.

“It is therefore not unreasonable to expect Ireland to be the biggest beneficiary of the reserve,” he argued.

The MEP highlighted that Ireland has also “invested substantially” in staffing and technology at ports and airports, with the country also having to look at alternative direct routes for access to other EU markets in place of the UK landbridge.

“I fully support the European Commission’s original proposal including its allocation methodology, which is fair, balanced and justifiable,” he stressed.

Almost 29% of Ireland’s trade in goods and services has historically been with the UK and even with the TCA [Trade and Cooperation Agreement], Irish GDP is expected to be 4.3% lower in 2030.

Markey said attempts to change the ‘distribution key’ are unacceptable and will only delay funds reaching Irish businesses and citizens who need them most.

“The BAR is designed to help business and communities cope with the increased costs of trade and loss of income as a result of the UK leaving the single market.

“For Ireland, the money has been earmarked for fisheries, enterprise, the agri-food sector, reskilling, retraining as well as infrastructure at ports and airports,” he said.

“It is essential that the negotiations are concluded to ensure the funds flow as quickly as possible.

“Attempts by particular countries to change the methodology to favour their national interest – at the expense of smaller countries – amounts to a ‘cash grab’ and must be opposed,” the MEP concluded.