Dublin government reveals emergency no-deal Brexit plan
The Dublin government has published a wide range of emergency laws that will be enacted if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
The Omnibus Bill, which will be fast-tracked through the Oireachtas, is designed to support businesses and jobs impacted by a no-deal and secure ongoing access to essential services and products across the border.
The huge suite of proposed legislation, which will only become law if the UK leaves on March 29 without a deal, was published as the EU Commission confirmed it was relaxing certain state aid regulations in preparation for Brexit - a move that will give the government in Dublin more latitude to offer support to farms and other affected businesses.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "Our focus remains on the UK ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement, which was concluded following intensive negotiations between the UK and the EU.
"However, for the last two years we have also been preparing for the possibility that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement.
"We are doing all we can to avoid a no-deal scenario, but we need to be ready in case it does happen.
"This special law enables us to mitigate against some of the worst effects of no deal by protecting citizens' rights, security, and facilitating extra supports for vulnerable businesses and employers."
Tánaiste Simon Coveney unveiled the legislative package at Government Buildings in Dublin on Friday morning, but said he hoped the Bill would never need to be enacted.
"My only desire is to see this legislation sit on the shelf," he said.
"It's really extraordinary that with 36 days to go we don't have clarity on some of these things... but that's where we are"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 22, 2019
Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney sets out no-deal #Brexit contingency plans https://t.co/UA7KQLDiBp pic.twitter.com/VuonmbV7Jh
Mr Coveney said a no-deal Brexit would cause widespread damage.
"Let me be very clear in saying a disorderly Brexit will be a lose, lose, lose - for the UK, for the EU and for Ireland," he said.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson has said the absence of plans for border checkpoints in the Republic’s no-deal legislation is proof that: “there is no need for the type of borders we knew in the 70's, 80's and 90's… Such talk was rhetoric designed to ferment fear"— Siobhán Fenton (@SiobhanFenton) February 22, 2019
"We cannot offset all of the damage it will do, but we are doing everything we can through legislation, through preparation, through investment, through information and through support of the multiple sectors and the multiple numbers of people that will be impacted potentially by that worst-case scenario."
The EU Commission's move on state aid rules governing the agriculture sector will enable the Dublin government to increase the maximum amount it can use to support farmers without prior Commission approval.
On Friday, the Commission also approved a specific Irish state aid application which will allow a Co Cork cheese company to receive state aid funding to diversify its business away from reliance on the UK market.
Carbery Food Ingredients Ltd, which works with 1,260 farmers, currently produces Cheddar cheese, principally for British consumers.
The €5.75 million (£5 million) state aid boost will support the company as it shifts to the production of Mozzarella cheese with the aim of finding new buyers.
The Dublin government's Omnibus Bill, known as the Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019) Bill, is made up of 15 parts and was prepared by nine ministers.
The proposed laws cover a wide range of areas and focuses on protecting Irish citizens' rights, supporting businesses and jobs, healthcare, transport, education and energy.
The Bill will be debated in the Dail next week and then in committees the following week, before being debated in the Seanad.
President Michael D Higgins will sign it into law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Here are the main points of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019:
Part 1 - Preliminary and General
Providing for the commencement of the different parts of the Bill by the relevant ministers on such day and time as is appropriate.
Part 2 - Arrangements in relation to Health Services
In the event that the UK leaves the EU on March 29 2019 without a withdrawal agreement in place, it is necessary to put in place legislative provisions to enable essential Common Travel Area healthcare arrangements, including reimbursement arrangements, to be maintained between Ireland and the UK.
Part 3 - Amendment to Industrial Development Acts 1986 to 2014
Designed to limit the negative effects Brexit could have on vulnerable enterprises by giving Enterprise Ireland extra powers to further support businesses through investment, loans and Research Development and Innovation grants.
Part 4 - Amendment of Electricity Regulation Act 1999
Ireland's all-island Single Electricity Market (SEM), which was established in 2007, has delivered an efficient, competitive and secure market for customers in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The purpose of Part 4 is to allow the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to quickly modify licences of Irish-based participants in the wholesale electricity market on a temporary basis in the event of a no-deal Brexit and in order to ensure that any issues of non-compliance with EU law can be addressed.
Part 5 - Amendment of Student Support Act 2011
Eligible Irish students studying in the UK and UK nationals studying in Ireland currently qualify for SUSI grants by virtue of the fact that the UK is a member state of the EU.
The purpose of Part 5 is to make sure that, even after the UK leaves the EU, these arrangements can continue to apply to eligible Irish students studying in the UK, as well as the payment of SUSI grants to UK students in Irish higher education institutions.
Part 6: Taxation
Part 6 provides for the modification of income tax, capital tax, corporation tax and stamp duty legislation in order to ensure continuity for businesses and citizens in relation to their current access to certain taxation measures, including reliefs and allowances.
Part 7 - Financial Services: Settlement Finality (Third Country Provisions)
The purpose of this part is to introduce legislative amendments to support the implementation of the European Commission's equivalence decision under the Central Securities Depositories (CSD) Regulation and to extend the protections contained in the Settlement Finality Directive to Irish participants in relevant third country domiciled settlement systems.
Part 8 - Financial Services: Amendment to the European Union (Insurance and Reinsurance) Regulations 2015 and the European Union (Insurance Distribution) Regulations 2018
This part of the Bill provides for a temporary run-off regime which, subject to a number of conditions, will enable UK insurance undertakings and intermediaries to continue to fulfil contractual obligations to their Irish customers for a period of three years after the date of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
Part 9 - Amendment of Harbours Act 1996
This part provides for an extension of the period of validity of pilot exemption certificates issued by harbour companies to relevant seafarers, eg to ships masters on ferries, from the existing maximum one-year period to a maximum of three years.
It will also allow for existing holders of pilot exemption certificates to apply for new certificates in the period leading up to March 29, even if their existing exemption certificate may not have expired.
Part 10 - Third Country Bus Services
The purpose of this part is to provide on a precautionary basis for a regulatory regime in relation to bus and coach passenger services between Ireland and a country which is not part of the EU.
Part 11 - Amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005
This part enables the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to make orders with regard to arrangements with other states. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has finalised an agreement in the field of social security with the UK under the Common Travel Area, which effectively provides for the continuation of current arrangements post-Brexit.
Part 12 - Amendments to the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984
In a no deal scenario, once the UK leaves the EU and becomes a third country, employers in a state of insolvency under the laws of the UK would no longer fall within the scope of the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act unless it is amended.
The purpose of this part is to ensure that, in the event of an employer becoming insolvent under the laws of the UK, their employees who work and pay PRSI in Ireland, will continue to be covered by the protections set out in the Act.
Part 13 - Amendment of Extradition Act 1965
In the event of a no-deal Brexit the European Arrest Warrant system will cease to apply to the UK. This part provides for the maintenance of arrangements in relation to extradition of citizens between Ireland and the UK under the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition.
Part 14 - Immigration
These provisions amend the Immigration Act 1999 and 2003 to confirm that immigration officers, in considering removing or deporting a person from the State, have, in line with EU and international obligations, the power to undertake refoulement consideration.
Part 15 - Miscellaneous
This part provides that the term "Member State" where used in any enactment shall be interpreted as including the UK for the duration of any transition period, in the context of a withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU being ratified by the UK.