Wed, 16 Oct 2019

Irish government allocates 1 billion euro to counter Brexit

Conor Trindle
10 Oct 2019, 04:03 GMT+10

DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish government is making more than 1 billion euro available in the budget to provide for a No Deal Brexit.

The funding will be used to protect Ireland from the worst effects of a No Deal. This is on top of existing grants and loans which are already being made available for business and agriculture, and is in addition to ongoing government expenditure on Brexit preparedness.

While the preparations go on, the government says it has not given up hope on a Brexit deal.

The Tanaoiste met with European Commision Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and hois team on Tuesday night to advanmce discussions.

"Good meeting with @MichelBarnier and team tonight. EU remains focused on finding solutions with the

#UK to avoid a NoDeal #Brexit. Gaps remain but a deal is still possible," Coveney tweeted afterwards.

The Irish government says it has been actively preparing for Brexit since before the 2016 referendum.

In December last year, the government published a Contingency Action Plan for a No Deal Brexit, setting out actions which were being taken across a wide range of areas to prepare fin advance of the March and April 2019 deadlines. In July, the government published an Updated Contingency Action Plan which outlined the further work across all sectors to further strengthen and refine preparations in the lead up to a potential no deal Brexit on 31 October.

Details of the Budget 2020 package were outlined by the Tnaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, and a number of other ministers at a special Brexit press conference in Government Buildings on Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking Tuesday afternoon the Tnaiste said:

Brexit remains the number one threat to the Irish economy, jobs and livelihoods. Whilst the problem is not of our making, the government must continue to prepare for both a deal and a no deal outcome. Budget 2020 protects Ireland from the worst of No Deal and builds on the hundreds of millions that have gone into Brexit contingency in Budget 2019 and Budget 2018.

The Budget 2020 package includes:

  • 650 million euro to support the agriculture, enterprise and tourism sectors and to assist the workers and regions which are most affected. This funding will be released in a series of waves, rather than all at once, to ensure an effective response to the wide range of possible Brexit impacts, which may take time to fully materialise.
  • Of this 650 million euro, 220 million will be immediately deployed in the event of a No Deal Brexit with 110m for agriculture supports and 110m for enterprise supports. Second and subsequent waves will be released as the economic impact on particular sectors and regions becomes clear in the initial weeks and months.
  • 40 million euro will be available to support the tourism sector, targeting the worst affected regions, as well as new marketing initiatives, on top of additional immediate funding of 7m in 2019.
  • 365 million euro is also being provided for extra Social Protection expenditure on the Live Register and related schemes, while 45 million is provided for increased supports for workers in adversely affected parts of the country for example the border region should that prove necessary.

These funding streams will lead to significant additional spend at local level in the areas most affected by Brexit. The scale of the contingency funding, the government says, will also allow further specific initiatives targeting the most affected parts of the country.

The government says it will continue to work with trade unions and employer organisations to finalise measures to support both companies and workers in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

In addition, 355 million euro will be spent on on-going Brexit preparedness, compliance and activation supports. Of this, 185 million in current and capital funding will be used to ensure compliance conditions are met and trade disruption is minimised, including extensive investment in ports and airports infrastructure for a no deal Brexit, as well as funding for extra staff and other costs. A further 170 million euro will be spent on measures across a number of sectors to ensure that the State and economy are well positioned ahead of Brexit. These includes Brexit Responses and Global Ireland, assistance to enterprise, tourism supports, farm sector and competiveness supports.

Assistance will also be available at the EU level for Member States most affected by Brexit. The government is working in Brussels to seek additional financial support in the event of a no deal Brexit, including exceptional aid for Ireland's agri-food sector and on other possible supports, such as through the European Globalisation Fund and the Solidarity Fund.

Furthermore, the government says there will be an increase of nearly 800 million euro in infrastructure investment in 2020 bringing total infrastructure spending to 8.1billion, as part of Project Ireland 2040. This investment in major projects like schools, roads and hospitals, the government says, will help to create economic activity and jobs across the country.

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