Brexit Day: Another Cliff Edge Year Lies Ahead

Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot commented this morning on the UK’s formal departure from the European Union taking place today.

“Today marks a very sad day for businesses in Ireland with the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU. Businesses will now hope for a comprehensive, ambitious series of agreements to underpin the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Throughout the Brexit referendum processes and subsequent negotiations we expressed our regret at the UK’s decision to leave the EU. However, it is with a sense of suspended disbelief that as the UK departs, businesses in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Ireland and the rest of the EU have no idea what they now need to prepare for at the end of the transition period.

The unilateral dismissal by the British Government of the mutually agreed option in the Withdrawal Agreement to avail of a two-year extension to the transition agreement must also be taken seriously. As the negotiations for phase two now commence, the realisation of the compromises and concessions required to reach agreement on specific issues will become very real, very quickly and time is on nobody’s side. The cost to business, and the resulting impact on employment and taxes, of this ongoing uncertainty is unquantifiable.

The negotiation and ratification of a comprehensive and ambitious Free Trade Agreement will be a challenge, particularly as there is no precedent for this kind of negotiation where both the UK and the EU will be worse off, rather than better off, following the agreement of a deal.

In Ireland, the incoming Government must ensure that our interests are protected in this next round of negotiations. This will be best achieved by working with the Commission, and other Member States, to agree a negotiating position that supports and sustains a close trading relationship.

It is vital that an agreement facilitates the continuation of the incredibly strong relationship that exists between British and Irish businesses.

Cliff-hangers belong in serial dramas, not in the real economy. We continue to advise all businesses in Ireland to prepare for the possibility of a cliff edge exit on 31 December 2020 and also to engage with any companies in their supply chain either in, or with exposure to, the UK to ensure appropriate measures are being put in place.”