We can­not al­low no-deal Brexit to hap­pen, warns McGuinness

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE -

THERE is a “real risk” the UK could crash out of the EU with­out a Brexit deal, Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has warned.

She said a hard Brexit would be “cruel, if not a killer” for the Ir­ish agri-food sec­tor and that “more sup­port and mea­sures may be needed” in the Ir­ish bud­get if it comes to pass.

“There is a real risk of a nodeal Brexit,” Ms McGuinness told the Farm­ing In­de­pen­dent. “But we can­not al­low that to hap­pen.”

She warned of “can­cer drug short­ages, long queues of lor­ries at cus­toms caus­ing food to rot, planes not be­ing able to fly, no per­sonal data trans­ferred be­tween the UK and EU” in the event that Brexit talks break down and the UK leaves with­out a deal in March 2019.

“The EU is aware, but th­ese con­se­quences do not seem to be fully recog­nised on the UK side,” she said. “Re­al­ity is dawn­ing among some Brex­i­teers, but it is a slow process.”

A re­cent re­port for the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s agri­cul­ture com­mit­tee found that a no-deal Brexit could cost Ir­ish farm­ers up to €5.5bn in lost ex­ports over the next decade.

Ms McGuinness said the re­port was a “stark warn­ing” for the EU, and that it would have to be dis­cussed by agri­cul­ture MEPs.

“The scale of the im­pact is huge, but it is not just an Ir­ish prob­lem,” said Ms McGuinness, who is on the agri­cul­ture com- mit­tee and is also one of the par­lia­ment’s vice-pres­i­dents. “Any­thing that hits Ir­ish food ex­ports will hit the EU mar­ket, so all EU farm­ers will be im­pacted if there is mar­ket dis­tor­tion and dis­place­ment.”

She also warned that a hard Brexit will mean EU bud­get cuts “un­less EU mem­ber states are pre­pared to put more into the bud­get”.

EU bud­get com­mis­sioner Gun­ther Oet­tinger (in­set) last week sug­gested a “new deal” that would see rich coun­tries “pay a lit­tle more into the EU pot” and poorer coun­tries ac­cept “more con­trol” over the way they spend EU re­gional funds.

The farm bud­get is also on the line af­ter 2020. Ac­cord­ing to a leaked com­mu­ni­ca­tion on the fu­ture of the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy, di­rect pay­ments could be capped in fu­ture for large farm­ers and re­dis­tributed to smaller pro­duc­ers.

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