Ibec seeks €675m in Irish and EU Brexit support for food industry

Business group flags ‘serious economic disruption’

Irish food exports to the UK are currently worth €4.5 billion, about a third of all Irish food exports. Photograph: iStock

Irish food exports to the UK are currently worth €4.5 billion, about a third of all Irish food exports. Photograph: iStock

 

The employers’ lobby group, Ibec, has asked the Government to secure at least €675 million in domestic and European funding to help Irish food and drink businesses cope with Brexit.

Food Drink Ireland, the Ibec lobbying division for the sector, has written to Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Finance, ahead of next week’s Budget to say funding worth 5 per cent of current Irish food and drink exports to the UK will be required annually “for at least three years”.

Irish food exports to the UK are currently worth €4.5 billion, about a third of all Irish food exports.

Ibec says the food sector faces “serious economic disruption” and that the State should seek to extend a derogation from EU State aid rules beyond December, to assist the sector with a potential No Deal British exit looming.

It suggests that the €225 million annually over three years could be raised by tapping European Union Brexit support funds, as well as a €4 billion Irish Brexit contingency fund.

It proposes that some of the cash be used in the short term to extend Covid-19 State wage subsidies to food companies hit in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

Over the medium term, it is calling for State investment supports, as well as backing for credit insurance and marketing supports and investment in ferry capacity to Europe. Ibec is also calling for a scheme to cover any tariffs imposed by the British.

Targeted

“The supports should be targeted at the food and drink sector and their scope should not be restricted to SMEs but rather should include all companies in the sector,” said Paul Kelly, FDI’s director.

In addition to the Brexit supports sought, Ibec’s food lobbyists have asked the Government for compensation for Irish food companies for meat and vegetables that went rotten after they could not be sold to local hospitality businesses that shut at short notice after anti-virus restrictions were brought in.