‘EU ready to respond and support Irish farmers’ – Creed

Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has said the EU is ready to “respond and support” Irish farmers, after the UK government revealed the tariff regime it would implement in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The minister said that the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, confirmed to him the EU’s willingness to help Irish agriculture.

He added that the Government has engaged with other member states and the European Commission regarding the impact of a ‘disorderly’ Brexit on Irish agri-food sectors.

At a recent bilateral meeting I had with Commissioner Hogan, the commissioner confirmed EU readiness to respond and support Ireland and, in particular, the challenges facing Irish farmers and the agri-food sector, given our specific exposure to the UK market.

“This process of engagement is continuing today, where senior officials from the department are discussing further the possibilities for sectoral support,” added the minister.

He argued that there is a need for the commission to deploy a range of measures to protect Irish farmers should a no-deal Brexit be the outcome.

“These measures could include the traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the Common Agricultural Policy’s Single Common Market Organisation regulation, as well as increased flexibility under state aid regulations,” said Minister Creed.

The tariff schedule just published this morning by the UK is complex. The Government is currently analysing the detail in the proposals and the potential serious and negative impact for the agri-food industry.

The minister reiterated the Government’s position that no other arrangement would be as good as the withdrawal agreement – which was rejected in a vote yesterday evening (Tuesday, March 13).

“We have been aware from the outset that a tariff regime will significantly impact on the competitiveness of the Irish agriculture sector. Any tariff regime is unambiguously very serious for Irish agri-food exports to the UK, and most particularly for the beef sector, which would be worst affected,” he added.

The UK parliament is due to have another vote this evening on a no-deal Brexit; if it passes, politicians there would commit themselves to avoiding a no-deal scenario, which would likely entail an extension to the Brexit deadline.