The head of the Irish Farmers Association will next week address the European Parliament as crunch Brexit talks reach their endgame.
IFA President Tim Cullinan will address the EU legislature’s Agriculture Committee on Monday, before appearing in front of its Oireachtas committee counterpart the following day, to discuss the ongoing talks, which appear to have reached an impasse.
The chances of a trade deal being agreed between the UK and EU have seemed to recede over the past number of days, with talks officially “paused” on Friday afternoon to allow negotiators from both sides to “take stock”.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EC President Ursula von der Leyen due to hold emergency talks by phone this afternoon.
Many Brexit deadlines have already been missed — however, the final exit date of the end of this month is believed to be set in stone, with key issues still outstanding regarding fisheries, fair competition rules, and how any deal is to be effectively enforced.
“We are at the 11th hour of the negotiations, a time when our interests must be safeguarded very closely,” Mr Cullinan said today.
He said that chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier must continue to pursue a deal which retains the closest possible trading relationship with Britain, and would be using his time at the European Parliament to remind other EU states of the Irish agri-food sector’s exposure to Brexit.
“The intense discussions to secure a deal must continue, but we must also prepare for the post-Brexit scenario,” he said, adding that, in that regard, the Irish Government must ensure that Irish farmers are “top of the queue” for access to the €5 billion EU Brexit fund.
He added further that, in the event of no-deal, that €5 billion would be insufficient, given the exposure for Ireland alone would be €1.5 billion.