North is the region most at risk from Brexit, says report

Northern Ireland could lose access to more than €400m EU funding and support

Brexit could have a huge impact on Northern Ireland’s tourism industry, says the report by economist Paul MacFlynn. Photograph: Derek Cullen

Brexit could have a huge impact on Northern Ireland’s tourism industry, says the report by economist Paul MacFlynn. Photograph: Derek Cullen

 
Brexit

British exit from the EU, a new report suggests.

According to the Nevin Economic Research Institute (Neri), which examined the economic implications of Brexit for the North, certain areas of the local economy, particularly agri-food, would be vulnerable to a “disruption in EU trade”.

Neri has also indicated that a British exit from the EU could put a “further strain” on the North’s public finances because it would lose access to EU funding and support. Last year alone, the institute calculates, the North received £320 million (€413 million) from the common agricultural fund, the common fisheries fund and the Jobs, Growth and Investment initiative, while special EU funds may also have contributed a further £50 million.

The report, written by economist Paul MacFlynn, warns there is no way of predicting exactly how the UK government would spend the money it might gain from a Brexit by not having to contribute to EU budgets or what relationship the UK would have with Europe after an EU exit. This in itself raises key questions about the attractiveness of the North as location for foreign direct investment and cross-Border co-operation on the island in the future, the report states.

According to Mr MacFlynn’s analysis, the EU is a more important export market for Northern Ireland than for the rest of the UK and therefore could be more vulnerable to new trade barriers that might arise following Brexit.

Tourism

Mr MacFlynn discussed the report yesterday at Queen’s University in Belfast,which hosted a public debate on Brexit. According to Prof John Turner more than 630 people had signed up to attend the debate, which also featured Dr Edgar Morgenroth, associate research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dr Esmond Birnie, chief economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Angela McGowan, chief economist, Danske Bank.