The key issue for Irish MEPs like Séan Kelly as they face into a new term in Brussels is Brexit. Kelly pointed out that while nobody knows – at this stage – what is going to happen in relation to Brexit, there is still hope out there that “it might not happen at all”.
The Ireland south MEP was speaking to AgriLand after he officially opened the Energy in Agriculture Conference 2019 at Gurteen Agricultural College in Co. Tipperary, on Tuesday, August 20.
The event was a joint initiative between Teagasc, Tipperary County Council, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Tipperary Energy Agency and Gurteen Agricultural College.
And, at the moment, the UK is set to leave the EU on October 31.
Meanwhile, Kelly said that while the European Commission was very concerned about the matter, he couldn’t see the stance in relation to the issue changing at this stage.
Europe has been very steadfast on what has been decided in the withdrawal agreement.
He continued: “Sometimes I get the impression that Boris Johnson and the British government are playing games – playing to their own constituents without looking at the bigger picture.
“We hope there won’t be a crash-out but the only thing I will say is that if Europe has to take a crash-out then it will take the crash-out rather than bowing unnecessarily to threats from the British.
“I would hope that the House of Commons will say to itself: ‘Look, we need to be sensible here.’
“I think there are enough people to do that, but it will be done against the wishes of the conservative Brexiteers and Boris Johnson as well – it’s not easy to go against a new prime minister, but we will just have to see now.”
Focusing on the key issues
Kelly went on then to point to the multi-financial framework document and the importance for MEPs to see this over the line during their first term in office.
Once Brexit and the framework are sorted out – which will be early in the next term – then we can look at the other priorities.
He continued: “I am back on the Industry and Energy Committee and from there I will be keeping an eye on Just Transition and the opportunities for individuals, farmers and communities to create their own energy and put it into the grid.
“In the broader context I’ll be looking at trade and at the opportunities that are available there to increase trade for Ireland.
There are growing and potential markets across the globe – especially in Asia.
“We need to keep our people in Ireland producing food while at the same time creating markets for that food and ensuring that the process continues to develop into the future.”