The UK is Ireland’s closest trading partner and its exit from the European Union will have an impact on the Irish economy. The extent of this impact will depend on the outcome of the negotiations.
Ireland is facing the challenge of Brexit with our economy in a strong position.
The Government is not under any illusions about the complexity of Brexit and its potential impact on the economy and businesses. We have already taken important steps to prepare our economy and are continuing to prepare for all possible scenarios.
This will depend on the outcome of the negotiations. The UK will leave the EU and become a Third Country (i.e. a non-EU country) on 29 March 2019. In the event of an agreement, the transitional arrangement agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement will apply and while formally a Third Country, EU law will continue to apply in the UK until 31 December 2020. In this scenario, the changes for business are likely to be minimal until the end of the transition period. During this period, the detailed negotiations on an EU-UK future relationship agreement, including on trade, will begin. The outcome of these negotiations will determine the changes that businesses will see after 31 December 2020.
In the unlikely event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, changes would happen from 29 March 2019 when the UK is no longer a Member of the EU. The UK would no longer be subject to all of the EU’s agreements and would no longer have access to the benefits of the Single Market and Customs Union, or to their legal and regulatory frameworks. The Government is carrying out extensive contingency planning in the event of this scenario, both at home and together with our EU partners. It is also important that businesses plan and prepare for Brexit and the Government has put in place a range of supports to assist businesses in this planning.
Ireland’s membership of the European Union will remain unchanged, including its membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.
There are a number of financial supports and practical tools available to help your business prepare for Brexit. Comprehensive information on these supports is available in our Brexit and Business Section.
A whole-of-Government approach to Getting Ireland Brexit Ready is being overseen by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D.
This work is managed through a number of interdepartmental structures and groups, such as the Interdepartmental Group on the European Union and Brexit and the Economic and Sectoral Interdepartmental Group. The Government has also established a Working Group on Island of Ireland issues, a Working Group on the Common Travel Area and a Brexit Trade and Investment Group.
Ongoing stakeholder engagement is a central pillar of the Government’s preparations for Brexit. The All-Island Civic Dialogue is a series of meetings held by Ministers to hear directly about the all-island implications of Brexit, from a variety of stakeholders from across a wide range of sectors.
The Brexit Stakeholder Forum, with a more limited membership, meets on a regular basis. The Forum brings together the voices of business, unions, state agencies, political parties and leading experts who have an important contribution to make in helping to shape our collective response to Brexit.
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has established an Enterprise Forum on Brexit and Global Challenges to provide a forum for discussion of enterprise policy implications arising from Brexit and other global challenges, with a particular focus on capturing the views, concerns and suggestions of the enterprise sector.
The finalised Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period. During the transition period, EU law will continue to apply to and in the UK as if it were an EU Member State. However the UK will no longer participate in the institutions and decision-making of the EU.
The continued application of EU law during this period will allow people, businesses and national administrations time to prepare for the new arrangements as part of the future relationship.
The transition period is set to end on 31 December 2020, taking into account the initial request from the UK for a transition period of around two years, and making it coincide with the end of the current long-term EU budget (the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020).
The Withdrawal Agreement includes the possibility to extend the transition period. This possibility can only be used once and must be decided before 1 July 2020. This provision also offers the opportunity for the UK to request additional time to make sure that a future agreement, including provisions for avoiding a hard border in Ireland, may be reached before the end of the transition period. The extension can only be secured by mutual agreement of the EU and the UK.