Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Brexit Stephen Donnelly TD has called on An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to seek stability for Irish industry on Brexit.

Today Article 50 will be triggered, starting a 730-day countdown for the UK to leave the EU. If a trade deal is not in place by then, a ‘cliff’ would be reached. This would mean new trade barriers costing thousands of jobs and putting many companies and farmers out of business. A smooth transition period is required, but on the day of triggering article 50, both the EU and UK are talking up the ‘cliff’ outcome.

Deputy Donnelly said, “Nearly 40% of Ireland’s SME exports are to the UK. This is job-rich economic activity, and any ‘cliff’ puts these jobs at risk. It is in Ireland’s interest to see the least disruption possible to trade during the negotiation period.

“Trade deals take years – just the formal talks on the new trade deal between the EU and Canada, CETA, took 7 years, with several years extra to set the parameters for those talks. As the clock ticks down, the absence of a transition period will a lot of uncertainty and damage to Irish farmers and companies trading with the UK. The way to address this is to agree, early in the talks, that a transition period will be put in place for trade, thereby avoiding a trade cliff, or disorderly Brexit.

“However, the soundings we’re getting from Brussels are that no transition period will be on the agenda anywhere near the start of the two years. While this might seem like a clever negotiating tactic on behalf of the EU, Ireland cannot afford such things – any delay damages Irish jobs. Fianna Fáil is calling on An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to advocate for early agreement to be secured on a transitionary trade agreement with the UK. The Government needs to protect our trade arrangements with the UK,” concluded Deputy Donnelly.