Tánaiste urges businesses to brace for Brexit with 100 days to go

Businesses need to be ready to deal with inevitable changes, Leo Varadkar says

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times


The Tánaiste has urged businesses to brace for the changes Brexit will bring with the UK due to leave the EU in 100 days from Midnight on Tuesday.

In a statement, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar warned that there will be inevitable changes businesses must be ready to deal with.

“From the start of next year, customs declarations will need to be completed if businesses intend to continue trading with the UK, whether that is importing or exporting goods to the UK or using the UK as a landbridge to move their goods to or from mainland Europe, ” he said.

In the statement, Mr Varadkar said Government has made available a grant of up to €9,000 per employee taken on or redeployed to enable businesses build their capacity to manage any customs changes.

“It is crucial at this point that all companies with UK trade links examine their supply chains and put a plan in place now to minimise business disruption,” said Fergus Sharpe, head of public affairs at Dublin Chamber.

“The Government has its own role to play in preparing Ireland for the new landscape by boosting Irish competitiveness versus the UK and encouraging investment in our SME base which is already struggling due to Covid-19.”

Business lobby group Ibec also said Government must support businesses in the coming months. “It is imperative that Government plays its role in supporting businesses in the event of a disruptive Brexit. Budget 2021 affords an opportunity to deliver comprehensive and meaningful supports for the companies, workers, and communities which will be the most impacted by Brexit,” a spokesman said.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Innovation also advised businesses to determine whether there are any vulnerabilities in their supply chains and to ensure they have adequate cashflow, “as it could be impacted for a number of reasons including currency fluctuations, tariffs or potential delays”.

Additionally, from the beginning of January the UK will be considered a third country and businesses cannot use UK notified bodies for, for example, product certification purposes. They must use a notified body within the EU.

“Businesses need to be sure their certifications and standards are EU compliant from the 1st January next year. While this may not affect every business, it is really important for some,” Mr Varadkar said.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said that frictionless trade between Ireland and Britain should remain the priority and is what farmers want.

“The UK’s stated intention of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union and pursuing an independent trade policy including agri-food, makes it impossible to retain the kind of frictionless trade we have today.

“This would open the door to Britain directly competing with the EU in future trade deals, undercutting EU import tariffs and granting additional import quotas...That would be totally unacceptable,” he said.