ICOS calls for suspension of the Article 50 negotiation period

It has been said that in relation to Brexit, the only viable solution now is for the UK and EU to agree to suspend the Article 50 negotiation period.

A statement from the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) revealed that this should happen to avoid “disastrous consequences” which would be suffered most by Ireland and also by the the UK.

ICOS represents over 130 co-operatives in Ireland including the Irish dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €14 billion.

Responding to this week’s events in the UK, ICOS said that the industry is gravely concerned at the disarray which now exists following the “overwhelming defeat” of the recent EU-UK proposition put before the House of Commons by Prime Minister Theresa May.

ICOS outlined that it welcomes statements made by the Irish Government and EU leaders, holding firm on the agreed deal and the Irish backstop.

Continuing, the statement explained that ICOS members urge all involved to use this opportunity to move in a new direction, including the UK seeking full and permanent membership of the EU Single Market and Customs Union, which is supported by a significant proportion of the UK Parliament, citizens and businesses.

To achieve such an outcome, EU Member States and the UK must now agree to extend or suspend the Article 50 negotiation period, according to ICOS.

The statement added: “This will provide the necessary time to avoid the disastrous consequences of the UK leaving with no-deal.”

ICOS President Michael Spellman reacted to the plans, saying: “It won’t be possible to sufficiently mitigate the resulting damage of a no-deal Brexit through public and private sector contingency planning, rather a long-term and stable agreement must be reached.

ICOS therefore additionally calls for a dedicated Brexit support fund to be established within the EU’s structural and investment funds.

Concluding, Spellman explained that the fund would be set up “with the aim of helping European farmers and agri-food businesses through this period of adjustment and market instability while ensuring food security for consumers.”