To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his contingency plans in the event of a British exit from the European Union
Question No. 3
Parliamentary Question - Oireachtas
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his contingency plans in the event of a British exit from the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien.
For PRIORITY answer on Thursday, 26th May, 2016.
Ref No: 12237/16
A fully developed “Plan B” for Ireland is not possible without knowing the terms and conditions of a future British relationship with the EU. However, Government Departments, including my own, have been working for some time to identify the key strategic and sectoral issues that could arise for us if the UK were to vote to leave the EU. We will continue to deepen our analysis of the risks and key issues that would require priority attention in the event of a UK vote to leave, recognising that such an outcome would represent a major challenge for this country.
The Department of the Taoiseach is responsible for cross-government co-ordination on this issue, in close partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and all other Government Departments. In the event that the referendum results in a decision to leave, the response and scenario planning across Government will be closely coordinated and actively managed.
In addition, there is already a clear framework in place for bilateral co-operation between the Irish and UK Governments under the Joint Statement which both the Taoiseach and Prime Minister Cameron signed in 2012. For my part, I have an excellent working relationship with my UK counterpart, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
Such bilateral engagement will continue, whatever the outcome of the UK referendum, but will become particularly important in the event of a vote by the UK to leave the EU.
Ireland would have a range of national concerns and issues that we would wish to see addressed at EU or bilateral level in the context of a negotiated withdrawal by the UK. These include the operation of the Single Market and the effects on trade between us, as well as the impact on the common travel area and energy interconnection between the islands.
In the weeks ahead, my Department and all Departments across Government will continue to prepare for all outcomes. Notwithstanding these preparations, it is Government’s earnest wish that the people of the United Kingdom will vote to remain in the European Union on the 23rd June. Our national interest, and the interest of British-Irish relations, are best served by Britain’s continued membership of the EU based on four main reasons; (i) a strong UK can help drive the reform agenda in the EU helping the Union to regain competitiveness and growth, (ii) our joint EU membership helps us preserve an important and underestimated support for the process by which Northern Ireland can transition to its full economic and social potential, (iii) preservation of the strong relationship between Ireland and Britain, including the Common Travel Area, is a priority for us as is (iv) preserving the €1.2billion per week trade between our two islands.
Over the last year, the Taoiseach and I have been very active in engaging with a range of stakeholders – in Ireland and the UK – to make clear Ireland’s strategic interest in the outcome of this referendum. This engagement has included our respective meetings with the British Minister and Foreign Secretary and a series of speaking occasions in both parts of Ireland and in Britain. The referendum issue featured prominently on my visit to Belfast last week and to Derry this week, where I addressed the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce on the matter.
Over the coming weeks the Taoiseach, I and other Ministers will travel to the UK to engage with the Irish community there, to articulate the perspective of the Government, which I know is shared by most Deputies. This outreach is designed ensure that the Irish community is fully aware of the very important reasons outlined above why they should vote on 23 June and, hopefully, opt for remain.