Brexit Bulletin, 25 February 2019

Feb 25, 2019

With just 32 days to go until Brexit day and the UK Prime Minister delaying the key vote on the withdrawal agreement until 12 March things are going down to the wire.  As noted above the Irish Government published its no deal Brexit legislation last week to help protect Ireland’s economy and citizens.

Brexit Omnibus Bill published by Irish Government

The Irish Government last week published its Brexit Omnibus Bill, a 15 part series of legislation designed to protect the Irish economy and its citizens in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Bill prioritises issues that need to be addressed urgently and immediately through primary legislation at national level. Each Part will be commenced by the individual Minister at the appropriate time.

Legislative provisions have been put in place to deal with the following areas:

  • Health services:  to enable essential Common Travel Area healthcare arrangements, including reimbursement arrangements, to continue between Ireland and the UK.
  • Industrial development: to help vulnerable enterprises deal with the effects of Brexit by giving Enterprise Ireland extra powers to offer enhanced businesses through investment, loans and Research Development and Innovation grants.
  • Electricity: The Commission for the Regulation of Utilities will be allowed to amend the licences of electricity market participants for one year without recourse to the normal modification and appeal processes, to facilitate the continuing operation of the Single Electricity Market.
  • Student education: Some Irish students studying in the UK and UK nationals studying in the Republic of Ireland currently qualify for SUSI grants. This legislative provision makes sure that, even after Brexit, these arrangements can continue to apply to eligible students.
  • Tax: The provisions cover corporation tax, income tax, VAT (including the postponement of VAT on imports from the UK), capital gains tax, capital acquisitions tax and stamp duty. The provisions extend existing legislative definitions to include the UK, in the event that they are no longer a member of the EU/EEA, in order to allow the continuation of existing arrangements in the immediate future. Read more about these provisions in the Irish tax section.
  • Financial services: legislative amendments to support the decision of the European Commission to grant temporary equivalency in European legislation to the Central Securities Depositories and Central Counterparties based in the UK. The provisions also extend the protections contained in the Settlement Finality Directive to Irish participants in relevant third country domiciled settlement systems.
  • Financial services – Insurance and Reinsurance: to enable UK insurance undertakings and intermediaries to continue to fulfil their contractual obligations to Irish customers for 3 years from Brexit day.
  • Social welfare: the continuation of current benefits allowed under the Common Travel Area arrangements
  • Bus services: a regulatory regime in relation to bus and coach passenger services between Ireland and the UK.
  • Protection of employees: in the event of an employer becoming insolvent under UK law, their employees who work and pay PRSI in Ireland, will continue to be covered by the protections set out in the Protection of Employees (Employers’ Insolvency)  Act.
  • Extradition: In the event of a no-deal Brexit the European Arrest Warrant system will cease to apply to the UK. 
  • Immigration: Immigration officers, when considering removing or deporting a person from the State, have the power to undertake refoulement consideration (i.e forcible return to the person’s original country).
  • Harbours Act: Seafarers who have a pilot exemption certificate can apply for new certificates in the period leading up to 29 March 2019 even if their existing certificate has not expired.

Read the Bill and the explanatory memorandum.

Timeline for the passing of the Bill:

  • Week of 25 Feb – Brexit Bill in 2nd Stage in Dail;
  • Week of 4 March – Brexit Bill in Committee, Report and Final Stage in the Dail; and
  • Week of 11 March – Brexit Bill in Seanad