WITH the West Cork economy so exposed to Brexit, being largely dependent on farming, fishing and tourism, a breakfast briefing to be delivered by An Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, on Friday, March 2nd next, at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery should be of great local interest.
This is an opportune time to address a West Cork audience as the EU begins Phase 2 of the Brexit talks specifically around the future of the trading relationship and specific non-trade agreements within the next few weeks.
While Britain will not leave the EU until April 2019, the impact of the decision is already being felt in this region, returns on beef and dairy exports to the UK have experienced price pressure because of the 12% depreciation of sterling since June 2016. The region has also suffered a 10% decline in Tourist numbers from Britain in 2017.
There is a danger with the improvement of fortunes in urban and more industrialised sectors of this country that the more traditional sectors will not receive sufficient consideration during the Trade negotiations. Breakfast attendees will have the opportunity to seek assurances from An Tanaiste at this forum on March 2nd.
Growth in the UK economy is now slowing and worryingly becoming very patchy with some sectors being impacted more than others. It is in danger of becoming unhinged from the EU economy which is enjoying significant growth and confidence over the past 12 months, reflected in the increasing strength of the Euro against major currencies. This has the potential to add further difficulty to the UK economy over the course of 2018, underscored by a weak Tory Government which is not helping.
With just one year to go before Britain steps out of the EU on April 1st 2019, how will rural Ireland fare which West Cork typifies so explicitly. Minister Coveney on March 2nd next at the Celtic Ross Hotel will address these issues in his briefing. As our lead negotiator, few are better prepared than Minister Coveney to address the issues that arise from the Irish side particularly in relation to those impacting rural based economies.
He has been an active politician for 20 years as a TD, an MEP and at Ministerial level since 2011. His role in foreign affairs gives him a unique insight on both the EU and UK/Norther Ireland position. Many local businesses will want assurances and high degree of certainty that the East West trading relationship will be protected as much as delivery of the north south frictionless border status.
Starting 7.30am, the event is being organised by the Fine Gael Executive of the Cork South West Constituency. Tickets cost €20 each and are available from members of the FG South West Executive committee, 087-2412993, or the Celtic Ross Hotel on 023-8848722.