Monday 29 May 2017

Brexit means our Border will have to change - Hogan

European Union Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan Photo: Reuters/Francois
European Union Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan Photo: Reuters/Francois
John Downing

John Downing

Britain's exit from the EU must change the Border arrangements in Ireland between the North and the Republic, EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has said.

Mr Hogan also said Ireland will not have a designated nominee on the EU-UK negotiating team. "Nobody from any member state will participate in that. That was never envisaged," he said.

The Commissioner, who spent three hours answering TDs' and Senators' questions at Leinster House yesterday, said there will be a back-up 'advisory group' to the negotiators, and this group will have Irish membership.

Mr Hogan said the view among EU leaders in Brussels was that Britain "cannot have its cake and eat it" - remaining half-in and half-out of the EU.

"The UK's choice is between hard Brexit and no Brexit. And it's only no Brexit that can give us the Border we have now," he added.

The Commissioner said the EU and the other member states were now well aware of Ireland's concerns about the north-south relations, and the strong Ireland-UK relationship, including the common travel area. He said he had discussed these matters with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and he believed Irish politicians and diplomats were busy informing other member states.

"I predict that conversations between Dublin and Brussels will be almost as significant as those between London and Brussels," he said.

Mr Hogan said the UK Leave campaign had canvassed on "half-truths and outright lies." The upcoming exit negotiations to frame a new EU-UK relationship, due to begin in March, would be very tough.

"Any deal, by its nature, will be inferior to the deal that the UK currently enjoys due to its membership of the EU. The UK is going to learn a hard lesson, it's not going to have its cake and eat it. The posturing and fancy talk of Brexit is already beginning to collide with reality," Mr Hogan told the Oireachtas EU affairs committee.

Mr Hogan also said that the EU had its problems and shortcomings but ultimately these were also problems and failings for member governments and the citizens of every member state.

Read More: No 'cohesive' plan for capitalising on Brexit

"It's high time we stopped blaming the union for everything that goes wrong while taking credit nationally for everything that goes right," the Commissioner said.

Replying to Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan, he said the UK's departure would cut the EU budget by €11bn per year. That would have implications for EU farm spending, which accounts for 38pc of the yearly budget, and for other member states' contributions to Brussels.

Earlier, he told agriculture committee chairman Pat Deering that there is no question of any return to milk quotas. The Commissioner agreed that efforts earlier this year by farmers to voluntarily cut back milk production had helped the market and such voluntary schemes could be used again.

He also defended the Agriculture Department's record on paying out EU grants, saying it was better than in other countries.

Irish Independent

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