Brexit: ‘We’re hoping an agreement will be reached in the next number of weeks’

“At the moment, we’re hoping a withdrawal agreement will be reached over the next number of weeks – but it will be critically dependent on the ability of the UK agreeing to the idea of a backstop,” an Irish Brexit spokesperson has said.

The head of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Brexit and International Trade Division, Paul Savage, made the statement to AgriLand at the Asia Matters Summit Meath event which took place in Dunboyne Castle today (Wednesday, September 12).

“We have a very high proportion of our exports going to the UK and if Brexit leads to any significant barriers – whether in the form of tariffs, delays or shocks to the system – then that is going to have an effect on the agri-food industry which will have a knock-on effect on farmers.

In essence, Brexit is a huge potential threat to the agricultural sector as it currently operates.

Savage noted that a backstop will ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland, “no matter what the outcome of the negotiations may be”.

He explained that an important phase of the negotiations – in trying to decide what the withdrawal agreement is going to look like – is currently underway.

He also reiterated that the European Union’s negotiating team, which is lead by Michel Barnier, is trying to get to the “heart” of what the UK wants – while continuing to protect the integrity of the EU single market.

We want to see a backstop agreement that will prevent a hard border, but the UK has issues in relation to how it wants to maintain its integrity.

He outlined that the ideal outcome would be to keep the future trading arrangements between Ireland and the UK as close as possible to the current arrangements.

“We would like to see the minimum amount of disruption possible to trade patterns and we will continue to seek that in the course of the negotiations,” he concluded.