Irish business leaders have warned the UK is heading towards a an “economically calamitous Brexit” that would “massively disrupt” UK-EU trade – and hit Irish companies hard.
They accuse the British government of putting short-term political concerns ahead of jobs and the needs of business.
They say there must be a “clear framework to protect the Good Friday Agreement and avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland”.
And they warn any deal UK-EU deal must recognise “the unique economic and political challenges” that Brexit poses to Ireland, and introduce measures to deal with these issues.
At a meeting of senior EU policy-makers in Brussels, Danny McCoy, CEO of Irish business group Ibec, called for up to €1bn in aid to help Irish companies deal with the impact of a “fraught exit”.
Launching Ibec’s report, ‘Brexit: challenges with solutions’, he said a close relationship between the UK and EU was “in everyone’s interest”.
He emphasised that Ireland’s “long-standing and deep economic, political, historical, social and cultural links to the UK” made it “uniquely exposed to the disruption of Brexit”.
He said any UK-EU deal should facilitate the closest possible ties in future and “should not seek to punish the UK” for leaving.
'Positive new relationship'
“We need to forge a new, positive relationship with the UK, and business will support these efforts," said Mr McCoy.
Mr McCoy also called on the EU to make a fresh case to the UK for staying in Europe on revised terms to “ensure the possibility of the UK revisiting the Brexit decision remains attractive and feasible”.
He added: “While such a scenario seems remote right now, that could change over time.”
Mr McCoy highlighted for key priorities for Irish businesses.
Customs Union: Ipec believes it’s vital the UK stays in the customs union. “A UK departure from the EU’s customs union will seriously disrupt trade between Ireland and the UK, particularly with Northern Ireland, and deeply damage wider EU-UK trading relations. It makes no economic or business sense.”