Thursday 23 November 2017

Comment: With tough Brexit talks ahead it's no time for mixed messages

Stock image: PA
Stock image: PA
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The first rule of negotiation is you don't show your hand - or if you do, do it selectively and with forethought.

The Government is keen to get the message out there that it strongly wants to host the EBA, so any suggestions that it could potentially be prepared to give it up once secured sends out mixed signals. And that, frankly, is unhelpful.

To be fair, there is no suggestion that this represents Government policy, at least not yet. It is the job of civil servants to present options, but it's equally important that Ireland's strategising doesn't give up hostages to fortune - and that messaging going out from here is clear and consistent.

The Government has been banging the drum for Ireland to host the European Banking Authority since the autumn of last year. The charge has been led by Financial Services minister Eoghan Murphy.

His colleague in Government, Simon Harris, is also heading up the State's bid for another jewel in EU land, the European Medicines Agency, with both bodies shifting operations out of London due to Brexit.

With a combined workforce of around 1,000, securing either would be a major coup for the Government, which is fighting to secure opportunities from Brexit in terms of FDI displaced from London. Arguably the EMA would be more valuable, given that it brings with it the bulk of the jobs. But the EBA would bring a level of prestige to Dublin's offering as a financial services hub.

Ireland faces stiff competition, with Frankfurt the favourite - and as we know it is a formidable competitor.

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