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ICOS warns against the catastrophe of a No Deal Brexit

On 8th December, a delegation from ICOS attended the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture on the impact of Brexit.

With just days left for the EU and UK to reach a deal before the end of the transition period on 31st December both sides must conclude the talks with a negotiated deal, as a failure to do so would be catastrophic for Rural Ireland.

The ICOS delegation led by Dairy Committee Chairman, John O’Gorman raised at the Joint Oireachtas Committee the devastating impact for co-operatives, farmers and rural communities which would result, should these negotiations end in failure.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnston and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met face to face in Brussels on 9th December but a breakthrough in the talks failed to materialise. Thankfully, a further phone call over last weekend resulted in both sides providing a commitment to “go the extra mile” to reach a deal and in more recent days the President of the Commission has identified “a very narrow path” to a deal but expectations remain pessimistic with fisheries, the level playing field and governance the main sticking points.

A No Deal Brexit would mean the imposition of tariffs of a value of €1.5 billion on Irish agri-food exports each year- this is frankly impossible for the industry to prepare for. Considering the damage Brexit would do to the UK economy in return, it highly unlikely these costs could be recouped from the UK consumer- rather it will be Irish farmers that will pay.

It is estimated that 12,500 jobs are at risk in the Irish agri-food sector if the UK does leave the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union without a trade deal in place – and it is rural Ireland that will be chiefly hit.  The jobs will be lost in our rural communities and the cost of tariffs taken from our rural economies, causing inestimable the long-term damage.

The ICOS Submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee can be viewed here

Eamonn Farrell – Agri Food Policy Executive