What is the IMF’s view on the prospect of Irish exports being “re-bought” from the EU and the UK in the coming months?
The Irish Government has outlined what it has been thinking about for a number of years, and there is a view that there is likely to be a deal to facilitate this.
What does the IMF think of this?
The IMF says the prospect is “highly speculative” but is not a problem.
It is not for the Irish Government to decide what its priorities should be, the IMF says.
In this context, the fact that it is an EU-only issue, which is not directly addressed by the Irish government, may be seen as an advantage.
The IMF is a relatively small organisation and is unlikely to be able to affect the course of EU policy.
What the Irish Department of Finance has said in response to the question of “whether the Irish economy can be re-bundled” has been a lot more restrained than what the IMF sees as the “unlikely scenario”.
It says that “the EU-U.K. free trade agreement does not provide a mechanism for the re-opening of Irish economic links to the EU”.
It adds that “Ireland is already exporting goods to the U.K., but this is due to a range of factors and it is unlikely that the Irish market can be opened to U.S. goods in the near future”.
In addition, it says that it “has little doubt that it will not be able or willing to re-enter the EU if it wants to”.
What the European Commission says The Commission has also stated that “in all the discussions with the Irish side, we have been clear that it does not take place in the context of a bilateral agreement, or of a free trade deal between the EU27 and the United Kingdom, but instead on a case-by-case basis”.
It is the Commission’s position that the Commission is not “involved in the Irish situation”.
The Commission also says that the issue is “a bilateral agreement between the Irish Republic and the EU”, and that the U-turns do not “reflect a recognition of our position as a member of the EU” (which is not the case).
The Commission said that “we do not believe it is appropriate for the Commission to play a role in the reopening of the Irish export markets” (and, by extension, Ireland).
What the UK says In its response to Ireland, the UK Government says that while “Ireland has an interest in maintaining its close relationship with the EU, there is no precedent in the post-Brexit world for a bilateral deal to be concluded with the U,K.”.
It also says it has “no intention” of reopening Irish exports and wants “to ensure that trade between the UK and Ireland is as free and open as possible”.
The UK also says “there is no suggestion that Ireland’s departure from the European Economic Area is an issue for consideration at the Council level” (an issue the Commission has not raised).
What will the Council do?
In its reply to Ireland’s submission, the Council has decided that the EU is “open for business” and “sufficient progress has been made in all aspects of the implementation of the FTA” to allow for the “free movement of goods, services and capital within the Union”.
But it says it is “confident that the future relationship between the Union and Ireland can and must evolve to ensure the protection of our interests in this area, and to facilitate our continuing economic growth”.
There is no way that this means that there will be a new FTA.
The Council says that, “The Council’s view that the reestablishment of bilateral trade agreements between the two Member States is not on the agenda for the coming year, as the EU-Ireland Agreement will remain in force”.
This is because the EU has concluded a new deal with the UK that is set to be implemented by 2021.
The UK says it wants the Council to “reopen” the Irish question.
This is not going to happen because the UK is not looking for a new agreement.
What should be done?
If the Council wants to take up the Irish case, it should put forward proposals that are based on what the Irish are saying.
One of these would be the creation of a single EU-wide procurement body that would “rethink” the EU’s “business, procurement and supply chain framework”.
The European Commission would be asked to prepare a detailed assessment of how this “transforms procurement” in the UK into one that is free and transparent.
It would also be asked whether the Irish approach is “pro-active” enough, so that it can make “the most of the potential opportunities for economic growth and job creation” in Ireland.
In addition to this, the Commission would ask whether the current system for “investor protection” for multinationals in Ireland, which has led to “high levels of investor protection”, “cannot be sustained”.
And the Commission might ask