Brexit bulletin, 4 August 2017

Aug 03, 2017

This week saw Ireland submit its proposal to become the new home of the European Medicines Agency, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warns the UK that Ireland will not play a role in creating a border between the North and South of the country.  In other developments, the UK Chancellor hints that the UK will not lower taxes while a recent study shows that up to 40,000 financial services jobs could be lost in the UK due to Brexit.

Who will win the EMA battle?

19 EU countries, including Ireland, have offered to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The EMA is currently located in London and therefore needs a new home when the UK leaves the EU.  The agency is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU and is critical for the functioning of the EU single market for medicines.

As part of its submission, Ireland has offered to contribute €78 million over ten years to the EMA which will go towards the expenses related to the selected premises.  Three premises have been put forward; two in North Wall Quay in the Docklands and one at Dublin airport.  The €78 million includes an annual contribution of €7 million per year towards rent and maintenance. Ireland will also offer relocation support which will help EMA staff and their families with identifying appropriate accommodation, schools, jobs for spouses/partners and other practical issues.

In terms of other countries offerings, Denmark will pay 20 years of rent for the EMA should it decide to choose Copenhagen as its base.  Barcelona is offering a ready to use building and a top class transportation infrastructure. Milan is proposing free rent for 2019 with rent slowly increasing year on year until 2022.

A final decision on the EMA’s new home is expected in November.

Ireland says no

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned the UK that Ireland will not play a role in creating a border between the North and South of the country.  The leader said that if the UK wants to have a seamless border, it’s up to them to create it.  Speaking at a media briefing in Government Buildings, he reportedly stated:

"As far as this Government is concerned there shouldn’t be an economic border…We don’t want one. It’s the United Kingdom, it’s Britain that has decided to leave and if they want to put forward smart solutions, technological solutions for borders of the future and all of that that’s up to them…..We’re not going to be doing that work for them because we don’t think there should be an economic border at all. That is our position."

The Taoiseach also suggested that if the UK were to put forward a proposal on how the border should operate, Ireland may not agree with it.

The comments came in for harsh criticism from the DUPs with deputy leader Nigel Dodds saying that the Taoiseach’s position was “total nonsense” stating that there was already an economic border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Brexit Minister, Simon Coveney added to the war of words by reportedly saying that the UK government is not in the right “mental space” to address the political sensitivities of the border.  EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan is also reported as saying that he is “very disappointed” by the UK’s reaction to Brexit and the pace of the negotiations.

Both the EU and UK have already stated that they want to have as frictionless border as possible between the Northern Ireland and the Republic and it is an entire agenda item on the negotiation table; how this will play out remains to be seen.

Brexit shorts

  • A recent study shows that the UK could lose up to 40,000 financial services jobs due to Brexit
  • Taoiseach “playing senior hurling” with Brexit negotiations, according to the Irish Examiner
  • Labour and Conservative MP’s reportedly look to keep UK in the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Eight countries, including Ireland submit applications to host the European Banking Authority (EBA)
  • UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has suggested that the UK will not cut tax rates below the EU average in order to be competitive with other EU nations 

Read all of our Brexit updates on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.