Thu, 19 Sep 2019

Ireland puts out 9-step plan to counter UK withdrawal from EU

Conor Trindle
23 Aug 2019, 20:47 GMT+10

DUBLIN, Ireland - With 10 weeks to go to the Brexit deadline on 31 October, the Irish government is urging businesses of the need to prepare for Brexit.

Nine steps that all businesses can take now to help prepare for the UK's departure from the EU have been nominated.

Government ministers are directly appealing to a number of sectors of concern. The ongoing Irish government contingency planning has indicated that the following sectors have low levels of Brexit preparedness:

  • Smaller businesses who may not realize they are trading with the UK
  • Construction businesses
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Agrifood businesses, particularly those in food production
  • Retail particularly independent shops, and hardware stores who source products from or through the UK.
  • Hauliers

Businesses and consumers who are concerned about Brexit and what it may mean for them are encouraged to visit the government's Brexit website where there is a range of practical information on how to prepare.

There are 9 steps that businesses, large and small, can do now:

  1. Understand the new rules for UK importing and exporting
  2. Review your supply chain and UK market strategy
  3. Be aware of possible changes to transport and logistics
  4. Review all your certification, regulation and licencing
  5. Review your contracts and data management
  6. Ensure you are maximising Government Brexit programmes and supports
  7. Manage your cash flow, currency and make sure your banking is in order
  8. Protect and inform your staff
  9. Know more about the impact to your sector

Following the publication of the latest Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update last month, the most recent government steps regarding no deal preparations include:

  • Revenue are issuing their second round of direct engagement to businesses identified as being potentially at risk from Brexit. Further to the 84,000 letters issued earlier this year, this round involves another direct communication via post identifying the company's potential financial exposure to the UK market and the steps they need to take, further supported by direct calls to businesses to follow up on the letter with any queries they may have. In this phase, nearly 27,000 letters have issued and 10,000 businesses have been spoken with on the phone by a Revenue agent.
  • The Clear Customs initiative is helping Irish businesses trading with or through the UK in preparing for new customs formalities arising from Brexit. Developed by Skillnet on behalf of the Government, Clear Customs offers eligible customs agents, customs intermediaries and affected businesses a free training programme to build capacity in the customs sector, as well as a potential euro6,000 grant to help build in-house capacity.
  • The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure recently opened for applications and will provide financial aid to Irish beef farmers facing difficult circumstances as a result of market volatility and uncertainty arising out of Brexit.
  • Ongoing Government events around the country, including Government outreach at the Virginia and Tullamore Shows, specifically targeted for the agrifood sector.
  • Planning for the National Ploughing Championships where Brexit preparations will be a major feature.

Speaking Thursday the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affair, Simon Coveney said:

Work on Brexit preparations has the highest priority across Government, particularly as the likelihood of a no deal Brexit increases. A no deal Brexit would have profound implications for Ireland on all levels. These include macroeconomic, trade and sectoral challenges, both immediately and in the longer term.

The Government's Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update, reflects the extensive work which has taken place at EU level and on a whole-of-Government basis, including the Brexit Omnibus Act, to prepare for a no deal Brexit. Now, with 10 weeks to go, we are urging businesses and consumers to prepare.

It is only by Government, businesses and citizens working together nationally and with our EU partners that we can aim to mitigate as far as possible the impacts of a no deal Brexit, and ensure that we are as prepared as we can be for the changes it will bring.

If anyone is concerned about Brexit and the impact it may have on their daily life or their business, go to www.gov.ie/brexit which has advice on how to start preparing.

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said Thursday:

It is vitally important that businesses do all they can now, to prepare for the impact of Brexit. One of the most practical steps businesses who trade with the UK can take is ensuring they have a customs registration, known as an EORI number. Having an EORI number is a necessary first step in being able to trade with the UK post Brexit.

In July, Revenue intensified its Brexit engagement programme with businesses who trade with the UK with letters issuing to all businesses who traded with the UK in 2018, on a phased basis, outlining the most critical Brexit preparation steps they need to take in addition to having a customs registration (EORI number). Over 37,000 letters have issued so far during July and August. The fact that almost 11,000 businesses have registered for an EORI number in 2019 to date is a clear indication that businesses are actively preparing for Brexit and have taken the first critical step by getting their EORI number.

If your businesses hasn't got an EORI, make sure you don't leave your business at a disadvantage, take that first step and apply for your EORI now. Businesses are putting the future viability of their business in jeopardy if they do not prepare for Brexit.

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys said Thursday:

My Department has put in place a range of supports to help businesses of all sizes to prepare for Brexit. We are encouraging exporters and importers to check to see if their suppliers use the UK as a landbridge and to review their supply chain. Businesses should also be aware of whether they rely on products or services that are certified for compliance with EU standards by a UK body.

I am acutely aware that many businesses will be dealing with customs for the first time. We recently launched the Clear Customs initiative to help Irish businesses trading with or through the UK in preparing for new customs formalities arising from Brexit. It offers eligible customs agents, customs intermediaries and affected businesses a free training programme to build capacity in the customs sector. Additional support of euro6,000 per trainee will be available to participating eligible companies to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning new staff to undertake training and take up new customs roles.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD said Thursday:

I am repeating my call to businesses in the Agri-Food and related sectors to make sure that they know exactly what they will need to do in a no deal scenario and make the necessary preparations now. Businesses that move animals, plants, or products of animal or plant origin (including wood and wood products) to or from the UK should engage with my Department so that we can help ensure they are familiar with the requirements for importing or exporting such commodities from/to the UK.

Agrifood businesses should ensure they are registered with Revenue and my Department, make sure you know what documents and certificates you have to submit, to whom you have to submit them and what are the time limits for submission. Decide who is going to be responsible for the submission of documents and certificates you or a customs agent.

There is no doubt that a no deal Brexit will be a challenge and will impact on trade. I am encouraging agrifood businesses to prepare now and to do everything that you can to make sure that you're ready. Check your supply chain. Review your regulatory obligations. Engage with your suppliers and clients.

The Minister of State for European Affairs Helen Mc Entee TD said Thursday:

Ireland does not want a no deal Brexit. The Government and the EU believe that that the best way forward is for the UK to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop provision. But we are very aware that the threat of a no deal is increasing as October 31st approaches. We are urging businesses and consumers to check of the wealth of information available on www.gov.ie/Brexit and to avail of the range of supports which are available to help Irish businesses get through what may be a very difficult period ahead.

The Irish government prepared extensively for a no deal Brexit in advance of the 29 March and 12 April deadlines. Key measures included:

  • Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 the 'Brexit Omnibus Act', signed into law by the President on 17 March, focuses on protecting Irish citizens, assisting businesses and jobs, and securing ongoing access to essential services and products. The various Parts of this legislation, made up of 15 Parts relating to matters within the remits of 9 Ministers, are ready to be commenced as needed in the event of a no deal Brexit.
  • Infrastructure, staffing and ICT systems at our ports and airports - sufficient infrastructure was put in place to manage the necessary checks and controls on East-West trade with the UK outside the EU.

Work at Dublin Port involved nine projects across eight sites to deliver 13 new inspection bays, documentary and identity check facilities, office facilities and parking for up to 128 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

400 additional Revenue staff recruited and trained for customs facilitation and checks; nearly 190 Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) staff trained and in place to conduct import controls; 59 additional Health Service Executive (HSE) staff trained and in place.

  • EU contingency measures Ireland worked with our EU partners to agree a range of temporary contingency measures in key areas at the EU level, including maintaining basic air connectivity and road haulage access between the EU and the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit.
  • Business supports - a wide range of support programmes for enterprise and the agri-food sector have been developed and put in place, including the euro300 million Brexit Loan Scheme and euro300 million Future Growth Loan Scheme, Enterprise Ireland's Brexit Scorecard, Bord Bia's Brexit Barometer and InterTradeIreland's Brexit Vouchers. Specialised training for a number of areas including market diversification and customs were also rolled out across the country. For a full list of all the supports available see gov.ie/brexit > Brexit & Business.
  • Extradition arrangements - workable alternative extradition arrangements under the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition were put in place for the event of a no deal Brexit, which would see the UK immediately fall outside the European Arrest Warrant process.
  • Communications and stakeholder engagement this has included over 100 Brexit information seminars and events since September 2018; a nationwide media information campaign and 750,000 leaflets distributed nationwide through 5,000 public outlets; 18 meetings of the Brexit Stakeholders Forum chaired by the Tnaiste; and five meetings of the All-Island Civic Dialogue.
  • Financial and budgetary preparations - undertaken over three budgets to build the resilience of the economy, including the establishment of the Rainy Day Fund and investment in long-term economic development through Project Ireland 2040.

In addition, a high level Memorandum of Understanding on the Common Travel Area (CTA) that reaffirms the commitment of both Irish and British Governments to the CTA was signed on 8 May 2019. Under the CTA, which will be maintained in any scenario, Irish and British citizens can travel freely, move to live, work and study, and access services including healthcare and social benefits in either jurisdiction.

The period between now and the 31 October deadline for a possible no deal Brexit, the government says, will be used to strengthen and refresh these preparations. Key areas for continued work include:

  • Providing further additional infrastructure at ports and airports to enhance our capacity to manage the necessary checks and controls on goods coming from the UK as smoothly as possible.
  • Preparing for Budget 2020 and making provision for targeted funding for the sectors most affected in the event of a no deal Brexit.
  • A new phase of the Government's Brexit communicationscampaign, which will include a call to action to businessesoperating in exposed sectors to take the necessary steps to prepare for a no deal Brexit.
  • Ongoing engagement with Member States and with the European Commission on key outstanding issues, including on potential supports for Ireland and affected sectors.

Contingency Planning: Sectors and Key Issues covered in Contingency Action Plan Update, July 2019

- EU-level Policy and Regulatory Response and Engagement

- Preparing Ports and Airports

- Staffing and ICT for checks and controls

- Legislation

- Financial Services

- Taxation

- Common Travel Area

- Justice and Security

- Connectivity

- Aviation

- Landbridge

- Transport (Road, Rail and Sea)

- Trader Customs Requirements, Education and Supports

- Agri-Food and Fisheries

- Enterprise Supports

- Labour Force Activation and Training Supports

- Market Surveillance and Notified Bodies

- Retail (including online retail)

- Tourism

- Supply of Medicines and Medical Devices

- Energy

- Transfer of Personal Data

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