“EU-UK negotiations exacerbated by COVID-19” Simon McKeever, CEO Irish Exporters Association

The Irish Exporters Association (today) voiced its concerns about the lack of progress made during the second round of negotiations between the EU and the UK on a future relationship. The second round of negotiations finished up today with the EU’s Chief Negotiator reemphasising the content of the joint Political Declaration and citing that there must be progress made on all issues in parallel.

Ahead of the talks IEA Chief Executive, Simon McKeever wrote to Tánaiste Simon Coveney calling for the reconvening of the Brexit Stakeholder Group to examine the negotiations to date and highlighted that these negotiations need to be brought back into the psyche of Irish businesses.

In the letter to the Tánaiste, the CEO outlined that the outcome of negotiations between the EU and the UK will play a “pivotal role in any economic restart strategy that the Government pursue” and that the issues surrounding the future partnership are “not alleviated or solved, they are in fact exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Chief Executive Simon McKeever commented: “While we are all battling the challenges brought about by COVID-19 very important negotiations, that will play an important part of any recovery strategy are taking place. I have requested that the Department of Foreign Affair’s Brexit Stakeholder Group is reconvened as a forum for businesses to be updated, take stock and work towards the end of the transition period (31 December).

The second round of negotiations has not progressed as we would like, and I share the worries of the EU’s Chief Negotiator. Differences on the level playing field and governance still exist and movements towards any agreement seem far off.

The deadline to extend the transition period (30 June) is fast approaching, with only two more rounds of negotiations planned before then. I cannot see how the tangible progress that both sides want will be achieved by then.

The pandemic has shifted focus from these negotiations, and I have concerns that while great efforts are and will be made to restart the economy, the outcome of these negotiations will directly impact any efforts in this regard. I welcome Michel Barnier’s comments that an any agreement must cushion the economic shock caused by COVID19. This is in the interest of both sides.”