148. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department has commissioned economic or regulatory impact assessments of the risks to sectors under the purview of his Department following the decision of the UK to exit the EU and the various types of future relationships that might result; if he will provide a copy of such studies conducted; the persons or body commissioned to conduct this research; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6309/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Contingency planning at both a domestic and an EU level is focused on three areas: preparing for a no-deal scenario or so-called “disorderly Brexit”; preparing for a transition period based on the “status quo”; and preparing for the future EU-UK relationship.
While the outcome of the December European Council and the move on to Phase 2 has lessened the likelihood of a disorderly Brexit, very detailed work on a no-deal or worst-case-scenario is advancing intensively through the cross-Departmental coordination structures chaired by the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade. This work is also informed by ongoing stakeholder engagement. Separately, a new preparedness unit in the Commission is considering EU-level responses.
All this work provides a baseline scenario for the policies and sectors impacted, which can then be adapted as appropriate in light of developments in the EU-UK negotiations. In this regard, it is welcome that the direction of travel is now firmly towards achieving a “status quo” transition period. Agreement on a “status quo” transition will provide certainty to individuals and businesses while also aiming to avoid any cliff edge effects between the UK leaving the EU and a future relationship agreement coming into force. The period will provide time for businesses and citizenship to prepare for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU based on the outcome of the negotiations on the framework for the EU’s future relationship with the UK. In this respect, the expectation is that the European Council will adopt additional Guidelines at its meeting on 22-23 March 2018 on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. These guidelines – as well as further clarity on the UK position, which has been sought by the European Council – will provide a clearer picture of the direction of travel in the negotiations.
The Government’s contingency planning continues to be firmly grounded in the extensive work and outreach that has already been undertaken by individual Departments and agencies, as well as by stakeholder organisations, academics and others. Much of this is in the public domain.
My Department has not commissioned any outside bodies to carry out economic or regulatory impact assessments in this regard.