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Some Brexit contingency plans 'eliminate immediate risk' but will only be temporary, Ross to warn

Minister Ross is to deliver an update on how Brexit will affect the haulage and aviation industries later today.
Feb 6th 2019, 6:02 AM 7,019 20

PROPOSED MEASURES IN the aviation and road haulage industries will “eliminate the immediate risk” of a no-deal Brexit but will only be temporary, Minister for Transport Shane Ross is set to warn.

Ross is due to address the Oireachtas Transport Committee later today on the latest measures in place to deal with Brexit, with fears of a no-deal intensifying after the House of Commons backed a deal with the EU that wouldn’t include the backstop last week.

The backstop – a mechanism to keep Northern Ireland in regulatory alignment with the EU and avoid a hard border – is something the Irish government and EU have said is non-negotiable.

Minister Ross will tell the committee today that Ireland’s aviation industry, in particular, is “uniquely exposed by a no-deal scenario due to our heavy reliance on the Ireland-UK air transport market”. 

Ireland’s dependence on these aviation links for trade and tourism run into the billions of euro a year.

Landbridge

Ross will also say that he is “very concerned” about the potential for disruption to the UK landbridge.

The so-called landbridge – when Irish exporters transport their goods through the UK on the way to the EU – is relied upon heavily by certain sectors such as agri-food.

A study carried out by the Irish Maritime Development Office determined that 3 million tonnes of merchandise trade with the EU moves between Ireland and the continent via the UK landbridge.

It can take less than 20 hours to transport goods to the EU via the landbridge, but up to 40 via other routes.

“These sectors would be particularly adversely affected by any deterioration in transit times or increase in costs particularly in a no-deal scenario, and these sectors may not be able to opt for the direct maritime routes to the continent, given the longer journey times involved,” the minister will say. 

Ross will also point to work from his department to monitor the extent to which agencies at the port of Calais are stepping up preparedness for checks on products from and flowing through the UK. 

However, he will also highlight measures taken by the European Commission in the event of a no-deal.

Air access

When it comes to aviation, continued air access between the EU27 member states and the UK in the event of a no-deal – provided the UK reciprocates – will persist for a period of 12 months.

For a further nine months, the European Commission has proposed allowing access for UK hauliers to the EU to ensure basic road connectivity if the UK responds in kind. 

“While both the proposed aviation and road haulage EU Commission measures are temporary only, they do eliminate the immediate risk from March 2019 and allow time and space to find alternative and more permanent arrangements,” Ross will say.

He will add that work has been done to establish additional controls at ports and at Dublin Airport. The Office of Public Works is also working to deliver the required facilities for the agriculture, health and customs checks that would be necessary after Brexit. 

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Sean Murray

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