Brexit update: summer 2018

Recently the president of European Commission visited Ireland, the European Council reiterated that Ireland has the full backing of the EU and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) published research on the skills requirement

Ireland will come first

The president of European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker visited Ireland on 21 June 2018 and delivered a speech to the joint house. In his address, he emphasised that whilst the UK has made its decision and it is respected, Ireland should not pay the price for that choice. In terms of Brexit therefore, the case will be that of ‘Ireland first’.

In his address, he emphasised that whilst the UK has made its decision and it is respected, Ireland should not pay the price for that choice. In terms of Brexit therefore, the case will be that of ‘Ireland first’.

There is a reassurance that there is a common agreement with regards to the border and there should be no return to the hard border. The Good Friday Agreement should remain sacrosanct in its entirety, every line, every letter.

The specific highlights of his address were as follows:

  • Preservation of the Good Friday Agreement
  • Continued support from the EU (26) – Ireland’s border is Europe’s border
  • No hard border
  • Use budget to finance peace
  • Prepare for eventualities of ‘no deal’
  • Stick to good commitment that is good for the world
  • A free trade that is fair for all

He acknowledged the growth the Irish economy has witnessed in the recent years as a sign of resilience even in the face of crisis. The country has now been turned around with a projected growth of 5.8% this year representing the second fastest anywhere in Europe. Ireland is also fast becoming Europe’s digital hub which reflects how much the country has embraced the modern world and become globalised. Thus, Ireland is now positioned to take on more challenges and turn opportunities to strength.

June European Council meeting

At the European Council meeting held on 29 June 2018 in Brussels, the council reiterated that Ireland has the full backing of the EU. However, there is concern that no substantial progress has yet been achieved on agreeing a backstop solution to avoid a hard border. According to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Time is running out for the withdrawal agreement to be concluded satisfactorily by the October European Council. I expect EU leaders to send a strong message to the UK that negotiations with the Task Force need to intensify. The lack of progress in the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement has been very disappointing. We still need to see detailed proposals from the UK on how it intends to deliver on the clear commitments it made in December and March.

The EU leaders warned that there can be no withdrawal agreement, and therefore no transition, without an agreement on the backstop.

Addressing skills needs arising from potential trade implications of Brexit

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) advises the Irish Government on the current and future skills needs of the economy and on other labour market issues that impact on Ireland’s enterprise and employment growth. It has a central role in ensuring that labour market needs for skilled workers are anticipated and met.

In view of the challenges and potential impact of Brexit on trade and the labour market in Ireland, the group has concluded research on the skills requirement. The report finds that a hard Brexit scenario will have a pronounced impact on skills requirements across international trading and logistics and supply chain activities, with the impact varying across sectors. Even those sectors not as directly exposed to the UK market will be affected by the potential implications for the UK landbridge, regulatory divergence and financial considerations.

The report emphasised a lack of preparedness and clear gaps in areas such as customs expertise, financial management and skills in facilitating exploration of new markets for international traders and logistics and supply chain enterprises.

Based on the research findings, the study makes eight overarching recommendations with 46 associated sub-actions, both short and long term in nature. These are directed towards enhancing the skills base from which Ireland can draw, for efficient facilitation of international trade and diversification into new markets.

This report offers a clear understanding of skills requirement post Brexit that relevant organisations can begin to use in planning their future skills needs, providing learning and development opportunities and redesigning current roles to meet these future needs.