Phil Hogan: 'Despite the madness of Brexit I still think common sense might prevail'
European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has said that he remains hopeful that common sense might prevail in relation Brexit but remained tight-lipped on no-deal plans for the Irish border.
In a briefing on Brexit preparations in Brussels, Commissioner Hogan stressed that "no deal makes no sense."
"Despite the madness of Brexit I still think common sense might prevail. He said a no-deal outcome was simply crazy and said there was too much at stake for both the UK and the EU.
On plans for dealing with issues related to agriculture produce crossing the Irish border in the context of a no-deal, Commissioner Hogan said the outcome of the negotiations in London will dictate what the EU response should be.
"If there is a customs union and regulatory alignment between the EU and UK then, of course, we will have business as usual.
"If there is a no deal, we see our responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement to prevent a hard border on the Ireland of Ireland.
"We see the various statements arising from meetings between the Taoiseach, President Macron and Chancellor Merkel last week and they seem to be assured that there will be a plan produced that will meet the logistical and practical difficulties and also one that is able to do so in the context of not having hard border infrastructure on the Island of Ireland.
Commissioner Hogan committed to farmers last week that there will be no cut to direct payments when the UK leaves the EU.
Speaking in Kerry Hogan said that while the UK leaving the EU will result in a €12bn hole in the EU budget, it will not result in a cut to farmers' direct payments.
He has previously indicated that Ireland is in line for a major share of a €500m package in EU farm supports if a no-deal Brexit happens.
Commissioner Hogan said that 'regrettably' the EU a lot of experience in agriculture of dealing with a market disturbance.
"We have experience from foot and mouth disease and the BSE outbreak. We have been preparing for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit,"he said in Brussels on Monday.
The Agriculture Commissioner said the EU has a five-point support plan for the farming sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
This includes intervention buying, aids to private storage, a relaxation of state aid rules to support farms, mobilising low-interest loans from the European Investment Bank, and additional promotions in emerging markets.
Mr Hogan indicated to the Farming Independent that the global figure for market supports is €500m but there will be an emphasis on keeping product moving rather than a return to the bad old days of large intervention stockpiles. He said expanding markets in China, Japan and Mexico are among the possibilities here.
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