Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade Darragh O’Brien has called on the EU to set up fund to protect vulnerable countries from any negative impact of Britain’s decision to leave the EU.  Deputy O’Brien made the comments following reports that the British government is to move to shield companies based in the UK against any Brexit fallout.

“The British government appears to be intent on delivering a “hard Brexit” and is already putting plans in place to protect its business interests and jobs.  Meanwhile, the EU – our own government included – is lagging behind, adopting a wait and see attitude and failing to put together a strategy to cope with the consequences.  This will put Ireland and other EU countries at a serious disadvantage”, said Deputy O’Brien.

“We need to ensure that Irish jobs are protected.  Small and medium family businesses are facing huge challenges in the face of Brexit and it is vital that these are supported by government and EU initiatives and not left exposed because of a lack of adequate planning.

“The EU’s failure to prepare is risking the future of companies based in Ireland.  They will find it increasingly difficult to compete with businesses which are being bolstered by the British government – and we could find ourselves losing long established companies to our neighbours across the water if they come up with more enticing conditions.

“The EU needs to respond to these reports without delay.  Ireland may have the most to lose if this shielding fund comes to pass.  As Britain’s nearest neighbour, both geographically and politically, we face the most immediate danger from a hard Brexit.  An EU Reform Fund should be established to protect EU states from any negative economic and social consequences.  The fund could also be used to accelerate badly needed reform measures so that future EU exits can be prevented”.