A survey of C-Level Irish business leaders has found that only 50% trust the EU to deliver a favourable post-Brexit deal for Ireland, whilst 80% trust the Irish government to act in their best interests as we near a conclusion in vital Brexit negotiations.
The research has also shown that 69% favour closer all Ireland economic ties post-Brexit with 94% believing Brexit will negatively impact upon cross-border trade. In addition, only 31% say tariff-free trade with the UK is essential to their business.
The research which was conducted by Ardlinn, highlights a clear split in the level of confidence and trust towards the EU senior negotiation team with Brexit deadline looming. There is now growing concern among influential business leaders that Ireland’s interests could fall down the EU’s agenda.
With the Taoiseach recently declaring that Ireland would be stockpiling medicinal drugs due to supply chain concerns and the growing prospect of a ‘no deal’ scenario with UK government infighting and comments by Liam Fox, the UK Secretary for International Trade at the weekend, Irish businesses want to see clarity and agreement.
According to Áine Brolly, Founder and Director of Ardlinn, the survey highlights the impact that uncertainty is having as we approach the Brexit end game, alongside support for the Irish government among C Level Executives. Commenting on the new report, Áine said:
“For the first time we are seeing real evidence of a widely held view that the interests of Ireland could well be abandoned in the critical phase of the Brexit negotiations. Despite the Irish government and the EU conveying a strong message of unity to date, with so much still up in the air, business is understandably suspicious about what the future holds. The overwhelming view that the Irish government is acting in the best interests of the business community will provide a boost for the Taoiseach and Tanaiste’s negotiating strategy, however, following a highly turbulent period at Westminster with resignations and the Chequers Deal amendments, business leaders are wary of further developments.”
Commenting on all Ireland economic ties, Áine concluded,
“With 69% of respondents favouring closer all Ireland economic ties (under any scenario) post-Brexit, this report demonstrates a clear message from Irish business that while only 31% rely on tariff-free trade, there is a strong and growing desire to enhance linkage with the North in these uncertain times. With the Brexit process incredibly fluid, there will be many turns yet to come in the next few months”
Whilst the Irish government has been central to EU negotiations to date, talks are ongoing between Theresa May and other EU leaders in what is believed to be a lobbying strategy designed to circumvent Michel Barnier and the Irish government. Barnier has however dismissed these tactics and any prospect of side deals by stating; “Anyone who wants to find a sliver of difference between my mandate and what the heads of government say, they want are wasting their time.”
Whilst Barnier’s rhetoric will help to reassure Irish interests, the business community is clearly split on the EU’s capacity to deliver a deal which benefits Ireland.
For more, listen to Ardlinn CEO Áine Brolly speak to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE Radio 1 below.