The Government is planning for a doomsday Brexit outcome which could result in job losses, emergency laws, budget changes and the grounding of flights to and from the UK.
All departments have been given until next week to outline what legislative and policy changes might be needed in the event of what is being called a ‘managed disorderly Brexit’.
The hope is an orderly Brexit can be agreed but the Government’s focus is to prepare for a ‘cliff-edge’ scenario where there would be no new trade deal between the UK and the EU.
Contingency plans to counter potential damage to the agriculture, fishery and aviation sectors are being drawn up and departments must submit a priority agenda by next week.
Existing predictions by the ERSI among others for a ‘no deal’ where the UK would crash out of the bloc are guiding the review. These include World Trade Organisation tariffs of up to 60% being slapped on Irish produce, particularly damaging to the beef sector. Economic growth could fall by up to 7% in years ahead while 40,000 jobs might be lost.
On top of significant uncertainty and disruption to the economy, a disorderly Brexit would have huge legal, resource and budget implications.
Officials are putting together plans to expand Irish ports and increase the numbers of staff operating them because of increased EU checks if the UK crashes out of the customs union, while flights temporarily going to and from the UK would be stopped without an aviation framework agreed between London and the bloc.
Emergency legislation is being looked at while signs of a pending bad Brexit would also be hardwired into next year’s budget.
Officials are awaiting an outline from UK prime minister Theresa May’s priorities for future relations with the EU, needed for a summit in March if an October deadline for a draft withdrawal deal is to be met.
Irish priorities for this future deal include fisheries, competition issues, produce standards, justice matters and aviation. Officials want to ensure the economy is as resilient as possible but are hopeful Ireland can walk back from a worst-case scenario.
Emergency Oireachtas legislation this year is not being ruled out if there were signs of a no-deal scenario by March 2019, when Brexit begins under a transition pact. On Monday, the EU will publish guidelines for negotiations on the transition period after Brexit.
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