22 May 2017

McCarthy: Brexit to hit Atlantic Regions Hard

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    The Brexit effects on the Atlantic regions of the EU is quite significant according to Cllr Kieran McCarthy. McCarthy who is a member of the European Committee of the Regions noted that nearly 100 staff of the Irish Permanent Representation based in Brussels are working on the different problematic areas connected with Brexit; Cllr McCarthy noted: “there is a public perception that the Irish government is not on the ground to prevent a hard Brexit, On the contrary, large scale preparation work is happening behind the scenes with the EU’s Brexit negotiator Mr Michel Barnier regularly being briefed on Ireland’s Brexit challenges. Mr Barnier has also met us the members of the European Committee of the Regions to outline his strategy for local authorities and regions in the Atlantic region, where there is much worry”.

“With Brexit, it is important that all the problematic parts are put on the negotiating table; many sectors are effected such as tourism, cross-Channel transport, UK residents settled in adjacent countries, trade exchange with the UK in fishing industry, agriculture and agribusiness. The list of effects is long”.

   Cllr McCarthy continued: “Each Member State contributes around 1% of its gross national income to the EU budget. The annual loss as a result of the UK withdrawal is estimated to be between 7 and 10 billion euros out of a total EU budget of 145 billion euros, equivalent to a loss of 4.8% to 6.9%. The UK currently represents 16% of European GDP. The overall reduction in the EU budget linked to Brexit carries the risk of reduced funding for EU flagship policies, notably the cohesion policy or regional structural funds, which accounts for 34% of the EU budget. It’s worryingly to think that structural funds could be cut as they have been of great use to cities and regions such as Cork in terms of constructing infrastructure such as roads, regeneration programmes of our city centre and to innovation start-up hubs”.

   Recently representatives of the EU’s Atlantic Arc Cities, of which Cork is a member, met to discuss to the impact of Brexit. Each city including Cork had a chance to give feedback into the discussion. Cllr McCarthy at the meeting shared the problems arising for the Cork region with French and Spanish counterparts outlining their issues. The group is demanding greater transparency around negotiations for the United Kingdom’s exit to improve preparedness on the part of territories affected; Cllr McCarthy highlighted; “the meeting was very frank with solid support for a strong EU budget, that European policies do not go backwards in their intent. The group is calling for compensation for the structural impact of UK withdrawal on the various sectors effected”.

“The discussion also revolved around the need to continue to pursue cooperation with the UK in the field of training and research, particularly maritime-related, guarantee funding to the fishing sector and to strengthen the role of the Atlantic Strategy and its Action Plan (quality labels, rewards, etc). There is much work and preparation to do not just in Ireland but across the EU’s north west Atlantic sea board. Regions such as Cork cannot afford to underestimate the effects of Brexit on the local and regional economy”.

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