New customs and veterinary checks, staffed by hundreds of new officers, will be needed at Irish ports and airports after the UK leaves the EU, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said, and the Government is to begin installing facilities in the near future.
Writing in The Irish Times on Saturday, Mr Coveney says that whatever kind of Brexit is eventually negotiated, some things will change after the UK leaves, and preparations for those changes are likely to become "more visible from now on".
Mr Coveney is to bring a memo to Cabinet at its meeting next week containing details of contingency planning and preparations for Brexit, including for a “no-deal” Brexit.
It is also expected that Mr Coveney will signal to his colleagues that provisions in the budget and estimates process will have to be made for Brexit-related costs and projects, including the recruitment of several hundred customs and other staff to operate the new facilities.
In his article today, Mr Coveney says that the planning for Brexit will now move “to the implementation stage”.
“That means the stepping up of our preparedness work is likely to become more visible from now on,” he writes.
While some preparations are being made on an EU-wide basis, others are the responsibility of the Government, Mr Coveney writes. These will include introducing new customs and veterinary checks at ports and airports for traffic travelling to the UK.
The Government will also step up its planning for a no-deal Brexit.
“Different scenarios trigger different responses and some of our ‘no deal’ planning will have to remain confidential for now, given that negotiations are ongoing,” he says.
However, Mr Coveney reiterates that no matter what the outcome of the negotiations between the EU and the UK, all sides have agreed that a hard border in Ireland will be avoided.
Mr Coveney's warnings come in the wake of European Commission advice this week to member states to step up their preparations for Brexit – including for a no-deal Brexit.
Meanwhile, speaking in Washington, the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the Irish Border was the most difficult issue in the negotiations between the UK and EU teams.