Ireland must prepare for a scenario where the UK leaves the EU without agreement next March, meaning a hard Brexit., That’s the opinion of EU Commissioner Phil Hogan, who addressed at a special conference last week on Brexit organised by the Irish Road Haulage Association and Rosslare Europort, entitled “Keeping Trade Flowing”
“the latest episodes of the Brexit reality show have shown us Prime Minister May battling with the mutineers, and the mutineers battling with each other. This means that, less than two weeks out from a key meeting of EU leaders which is supposed to settle this very question, we are no closer to the UK converging around a real, workable solution”.
Verona Murphy, President of the Irish Road Haulage Association speaking at the event said: “Brexit is often talked about in terms of an event that will happen in 2019 but won’t really have any impact until 2021 or later. For the licensed road haulage sector in Ireland Brexit is already biting and the impact is absolutely frightening. We need to be Brexit ready now and the Irish Government and State Agencies need to plan for a hard Brexit given the political uncertainties in Westminster.”
Ms Murphy added: “As a potential disruptor to mercantile trade, Brexit has the capacity to seriously damage our national economy and our international trading relationships. The effects are already plain to predict – major delays at our Ports as Customs, the Department of Agriculture and the HSE all carry out inspection checks which have not applied on trade across the EU to date. The implications of these checks and the delays that they will create for the transit of goods to and from Ireland will seriously threaten our economic competitiveness. We would see ferries being delayed, kilometres of queues in Ports, shortages in goods and increases in the price of consumer goods as restrictions kick in. There will also be increases in the cost of transport of goods as trips become longer, less efficient and delayed.”
Economist Jim Power, who also spoke at the conference, said that the environment for the haulage sector has become more difficult and more volatile due to intense competition and numerous cost increases and face considerable challenges due to Brexit. However, he said that Brexit may also provide opportunity for the South East of Ireland, particularly in the potential development of Rosslare Europort.
Jim Meade, CEO of Iarnród Éireann, which operates Rosslare Europort, said: “As a key valuable strategic asset to the South East Region, Rosslare Europort can play a vital role post Brexit in supporting both the freight and tourism markets for the region and the island of Ireland.”