Brexit: the impact on Ireland

The ALDE Group in the CoR became the first delegation of the Committee of the Regions to visit Ireland to find out directly on the ground how Brexit will impact Ireland from a subnational level, teaming up with Fianna Fáil for this special occasion.

The extraordinary group meeting on Brexit of ALDE CoR aims to convey the findings on Brexit’s impact from the local and regional perspective to European Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier just before the Brexit negotiations were due to start. To do this, Fianna Fáil teamed up with its political grouping in the European Committee of the Regions to bring to Dublin thirty representatives from cities and regions from across the Union as city mayors and regional politicians are in a position to achieve a number of objectives of interest to Ireland: to identify new opportunities for trade with the EU-27; to raise awareness of Ireland’s concerns with citizens and local media in their countries; to raise awareness with their political peers in other cities and regions in their country and to do so with their national governments through their privileged contacts.

Fianna Fáil is therefore ensuring that as national leaders take a step back from Brexit to give the lead to the European Commission’s negotiator Michel Barnier, the Irish message is given visibility at a different level throughout the Union. This was illustrated by a top level discussion between Michael Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil, and our President Bart Somers along with one of our Irish members, Kate Feeney, agreeing that it is key to raise awareness across EU regions and cities for the impact of Brexit.


Brexit debate with top speakers

Our group also organized a vivid debate about Brexit with prominent guest speakers such as Catherine Day, special advisor to European Commission President Juncker, Timmy Dooley TD, Vice-President of Fianna Fáil party and of the ALDE Party and Stephen Donnelly TD, Brexit spokesperson for Fianna Fáil.

Speaking to Irish national media during the special meeting in Dublin guest speaker Catherine Day, special advisor to European Commission President Juncker, said:

“The UK has said what it doesn’t want: freedom of movement. But we still don’t know what kind of Brexit they seek. We would all like an organised withdrawal but time is so limited that London now really needs to say what it wants”


Timmy Dooley TD, Vice-President of Fianna Fáil party and of the ALDE Party:

“What this debate has shown is that Ireland still has a lot of work to do to raise awareness of the impact of Brexit on Ireland, for example on the agrifood sector. Compared to other larger member states the impact on Ireland in absolute numbers appears small, but in proportion to the size of its economy the impact is potentially devastating.”

Bart Somers, ALDE CoR president:

“Our ALDE debate today revealed how varied the Brexit impact will be on EU regions. For example, Flanders is very concerned given how interconnected we are with the UK. 70.000 Jobs in Flanders depend on trade with the UK and while we’re sad about Britain’s departure we have to deal with it and protect the interests of the EU 27. One of these is the peace process in Northern-Ireland which we all feel as our own. I grew up watching the troubles on television and we want a good result for the local authorities on either side of the border and beyond.”

François Decoster, ALDE CoR Vice-President:

“Being dependent on cross-border activities, we will be among the first to feel the impact of the unfair situation of Brexit. Unfair, because we can’t do anything about the decision of the United Kingdom. The Brexit-negotiations therefore need take in consideration the neighbouring countries and regions – Ireland, Flanders, France, the Netherlands,… We are all going to be affected, and that is why we need cohesion programs for future generations to manage our regions after the UK leaves.”

 

The Extraordinary Group Meeting of the ALDE Group in the Committee of the Regions took place in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland, on 15 and 16 June 2017.