Speaking at an event with the Leader of the UK Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable at Ibec head office today, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said close future EU-UK regulatory alignment is vital to avoiding a major hit to trade and investment flows post-Brexit. Mr McCoy said the need to protect the established economic links with the UK must inform the Brexit approach of all parties.
Mr McCoy continued: “Irish concerns are now firmly embedded in the Brexit negotiating process. The task now is to ensure that clear commitments to avoiding a hard border positively shape the final settlement. This is important for exporters and importers, but also for companies investing across both jurisdictions.
“The fraught nature of recent EU-UK negotiations risks limiting the ambition of future trade talks. It is vital this does not happen. Ireland must play a central and constructive role as talks move on. Irish and UK economic fortunes are utterly intertwined, and will remain so after Brexit.”
On the EU-UK deal that is due to be signed off by European leaders, Mr McCoy said: “UK commitments on Ireland are positive and far-reaching. The agreement of all sides to the continuation of the Irish-UK Common Travel Area is a major achievement, that will benefit businesses and workers. It will make it easy for Irish companies to transfer Irish staff to UK operations and for Irish and UK workers to move back and forth as they wish. The agreement is an important recognition of the unique Irish-UK ties that will continue after Brexit.
“The progress to phase two reduces the possibility of a “no-deal”. This is welcome news for business. The UK trade commitments on Ireland also point to a future EU-UK deal that is on the softer end of the spectrum, even if all the current talk is of a Canada-style free trade agreement. It is now up to the UK government and the EU to fully deliver on the pledges made. Business in Ireland, the rest of the EU and in the UK will support them in these efforts.
“Of course, huge uncertainty remains. A quick deal on an extended transition period would take some of the pressure off. However, a final deal that delivers a close future relationship is the real goal. This must include regulatory alignment across all key sectors of the economy. Early agreement on how this can be achieved and a clear roadmap is crucial.”