Ireland has alerted the European Commission that it will seek emergency aid in the event of a no-deal Brexit and is considering a range of other ways to help firms cope, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.
With close trading links with Britain, Ireland’s export-focused economy is considered the most vulnerable among the remaining 27 European Union members to the impact of its nearest neighbor’s departure from the bloc.
Ireland’s finance department forecast earlier on Tuesday that economic growth could be 4.25 percentage points less than forecast by 2023 in a disorderly Brexit and would disproportionately hit agricultural goods and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Varadkar said last month that Dublin was discussing with the Commission what state aid might be available if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal, and confirmed on Tuesday that it had informed Brussels that such a request would be forthcoming.
“The purpose of this aid would be to help cope with the impact on Irish trade, particularly for the beef, dairy and fishing sectors,” Varadkar said in the text of a speech to be delivered at the Irish Farmers’ Association’s annual general meeting.
Additional exceptional EU supports available in the case of serious agricultural market disturbance that Baltic states used when the Russian market was closed to them “can be used for us too,” Varadkar added.
He said the government has been engaging on these issues with EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, a former Irish government minister and member of Varadkar’s Fine Gael party.
Farmers were told that domestic assistance would also likely be made available, with Varadkar saying his cabinet discussed providing funds for storage, restructuring grants and other state aids at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.
“I can assure you that Ireland is seeking every possible assistance,” he said.