Dundalk Chamber of Commerce was represented by Michael Gaynor and Paddy Malone when Chambers Ireland made a two day visit to Brussels recently.
Over two days, they met members of the Commission and discussed topics as diverse as Brexit, EU trade policy for the SME sector, the Green Agenda and fiscal policy on the first day
There were two threads common to all meetings, Brexit and the priority now been given to The Green Agenda by President Von der Leyen. In all discussions on future policy it was repeated that the first assessment on all policy will be the environmental impact.
Michael Gaynor raised the issue of Europe's attitude to the Irish based beef industry and was critical of the EU Mercosur agreement allowing Argentina beef access to EU. This was hardly eco-friendly when the carbon footprint of transportation was taken into account.
Brexit was raised by Paddy Malone at a number of the meetings. He expressed concern that there was not enough time to conclude a deal, the impact divergence by UK would have on cross border controls, if movement from Britain to Northern Ireland was not properly policed.
The Commission stressed its commitment to the SME sector and outlined supports available to new and existing exporters. They also emphasised their determination to tackle all barriers to trade including red tape and artificial manipulation.
There was also discussion on the Common Consolidated Tax Base. Paddy Malone asked that the Commission approach this in two parts; A, the rate which was non-negotiable and B. the rules for calculating taxable profits as distinct from accounting profits. On the latter we should welcome such harmonisation. Both Sean Kelly and Billy Kelleher (MEP'S for Ireland South) concurred.
The delegates also met with Phil Hogan's team who have a number of matters to consider including the deal with the UK; trade relationship with USA and relationship with China.
Paddy Malone and Michael Gaynor both emphasised the positive impact WuXi was having on Dundalk.
The trip was a positive one in establishing links with other Irish Chambers and with some EU chambers.
It allowed Dundalk's business voice to be heard at this critical tie for EU/UK relationships.