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Phil Hogan says the UK is 'going to learn a hard lesson' over Brexit

The Agriculture Commissioner said the UK can’t “have its cake and eat it” and dismissed Brexiteers’ “posturing and fancy talk”.

Hogan 2 Phil Hogan Source: Rollingnews.ie

IRISH EU COMMISSIONER Phil Hogan has slated the “lazy narrative” that the European Union is undergoing an existential crisis.

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development is appearing this afternoon before the Oireachtas joint committee on EU affairs.

“It’s a very interesting time for all of us in the union and, as Commissioner, there’s not a dull moment,” he said.

It’s becoming topical to claim the EU is in a crisis, even an existential crisis, something that President Juncker acknowledge recently, and in part.

“Commentators lay all the problems up on top of one another: Terrorism, refugees, the euro, poor economic performance, high unemployment, Brexit, and they look for solutions.

“The prime minister of France, Mr [Manuel] Valls, did it the other day, when he argued for an approach to positions in Europe from citizens that emphasises our European identity, our shared values and our European patriotism, if you like.

This is an opinion I share.

Of the naysayers of the European project, Hogan said it was a lopsided attitude.

“It’s also a lazy narrative that does not stand up to scrutiny. Yet it is naive to argue that nothing is wrong with the European Union… the union is working through its problems.”

Big Phil Hogan before the committee today.

Brexit

Hogan said he wanted to reassure Ireland, and the Irish Government, that the European Commission takes very seriously Ireland’s predicament over Brexit.

Brexit, “a headache for the union but a full-blown crisis for the UK, and with a high risk of collateral damage for Ireland”. He said it concerns Ireland “almost as much as it concerns the UK”.

“I want to leave you with no illusion that the EU is going to be clear-headed” with its UK negotiations.

“Ireland has developed an almost disproportionate trading dependence with the UK, and must increase in this context with the rest of the union.

“What is clear above all is that any deal must, by its nature, be inferior than the deal the UK currently enjoys due to its membership of the European Union.

The UK is going to learn a hard lesson. It’s not going to have its cake and eat it. The posturing and fancy talk of Brexit is already beginning to collide with reality.

He added that the Brexit referendum campaign in the UK “was characterised by some half-truths and some outright lies”.

“And we are already seeing features of Brexit becoming evident, even though they were dismissed in the referendum debates and pure scare-mongering.”

Seanad

The former Environment Minister also questioned the Seanad’s rejection of the Ceta trade deal, between the EU and Canada, due to the globalisation of Ireland’s economy and our historic ties to North America.

“I was therefore surprised at [how] the Seanad rejected Ceta recently. Such a rejection was reported widely in the media sources in Europe.

And the question I’d ask is whether such a rejection of a good trade deal is a view Ireland should be conveying to the world, not only in terms of our being open for investment, but also in terms of our relationship with a country that gave an outlet for many of our young people during the recent economic crisis.

“It’s difficult to see how this trade deal is in the interests of the citizens of Ireland.”

Hogan committee The Joint Oireachtas committee this afternoon.

Committee chairman Michael Healy-Rae applauded the Commissioner “for giving it to us straight”. “We like it straight, and you’ve given it to us straight, and we thank you for that,” he said.

Senator Terry Leyden of Fianna Fáil said Hogan’s comments were “the most comprehensive” response the Oireachtas had yet received over Brexit. Leyden called for an observer role for Ireland during Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU.

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