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Government Publishes Brexit Omnibus Bill to prepare Ireland for no deal withdrawal by the UK

The Government this morning (Friday 22nd Feb 2019) published the ‘Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019’.

 The landmark piece of legislation crosses the remit of nine government Ministers and is made up of 15 parts to prepare Ireland for a disorderly Brexit.

 This Omnibus Bill focuses on protecting Irish citizens, supporting businesses and jobs, and securing ongoing access to essential services and products. 

 Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, said, “Our focus remains on the UK ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement, which was concluded following intensive negotiations between the UK and the EU. However, for the last two years we have also been preparing for the possibility that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. We are doing all we can to avoid a no deal scenario, but we need to be ready in case it does happen. This special law enables us to mitigate against some of the worst effects of no deal by protecting citizens’ rights, security, and facilitating extra supports for vulnerable businesses and employers.”

 Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD, launched the Bill alongside Minister for European Affairs, Helen McEntee TD.

 The Tánaiste said the legislation compliments EU action that will be taken in the event of a disorderly Brexit, “A no deal Brexit will be a major shock for the Irish economy and the most important contingency we have is remaining a member of the EU with all of the security and support that will bring.”

 “This legislation is the product of a root and branch trawl of our laws to determine what changes will be needed if the UK becomes a third country overnight. It is the painstaking work of our teams across the whole of government and I want to thank them for that.”

 In recognition of the importance, breadth and scope of the Bill, the Government will work closely with all members of the Oireachtas to ensure it passes through the Houses of the Oireachtas in a timely fashion.  

 Minister McEntee said, “Protecting Ireland from Brexit crosses party lines and I’m certain the Oireachtas will put its shoulder to the wheel to get this legislation passed. We have the time and determination to do it.”

 

ENDS

 

Press Office

22 February 2019

 

NOTES TO EDITOR

FULL TEXT OF BILL

 

NEXT STEPS:

 

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.

 

Week of 11 March

Brexit Bill in Seanad.

 

PARTS OF THE BILL

Part 1 – Preliminary and General

 

• Providing for the commencement of the different Parts of the Bill by the relevant Ministers on such day and time as is appropriate.

 

Part 2 – Arrangements in relation to Health Services

 

• In the event that the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a withdrawal agreement in place, it is necessary to put in place legislative provisions to enable essential Common Travel Area healthcare arrangements, including reimbursement arrangements, to be maintained between Ireland and the UK.

 

Part 3 - Amendment to Industrial Development Acts 1986 to 2014

 

• Designed to limit the negative effects Brexit could have on vulnerable enterprises by giving Enterprise Ireland extra powers to further support businesses through investment, loans and RD&I grants. 

 

Part 4 – Amendment of Electricity Regulation Act 1999

 

• Ireland’s all-island Single Electricity Market (SEM), which was established in 2007, has delivered an efficient, competitive and secure market for customers in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The purpose of Part 4 is to allow the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to quickly modify licences of Irish-based participants in the wholesale electricity market on a temporary basis in the event of a no deal Brexit and in order to ensure that any issues of non-compliance with EU law can be addressed.

 

Part 5 – Amendment of Student Support Act 2011  

 

• Eligible students studying in the UK and UK nationals studying in Ireland, currently qualify for SUSI grants by virtue of the fact that the UK is a Member State of the EU. The purpose of Part 5 is to make sure that, even after the UK leaves the EU, these arrangements can continue to apply to eligible Irish students studying in the UK, as well as the payment of SUSI grants to UK students in Irish higher education institutions. 

 

Part 6: Taxation

 

• Part 6 provides for the modification of Income Tax, Capital Tax, Corporation Tax and Stamp Duty legislation in order to ensure continuity for businesses and citizens in relation to their current access to certain taxation measures including reliefs and allowances.

 

Part 7 – Financial Services: Settlement Finality (Third Country Provisions)

 

• The purpose of this Part is to introduce legislative amendments to support the implementation of the European Commission's equivalence decision under the Central Securities Depositories (CSD) Regulation and to extend the protections contained in the Settlement Finality Directive to Irish participants in relevant third country domiciled settlement systems.

 

Part 8 – Financial Services: Amendment to the European Union (Insurance and Reinsurance) Regulations 2015 and the European Union (Insurance Distribution) Regulations 2018

 

• This Part of the Bill provides for a temporary run-off regime, which, subject to a number of conditions, will enable UK insurance undertakings and intermediaries to continue to fulfil contractual obligations to their Irish customers for a period of three years after the date of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. 

 

Part 9 – Amendment of Harbours Act 1996

 

• This Part provides for an extension of the period of validity of Pilot Exemption Certificates issued by Harbour companies to relevant seafarers, e.g., to Ships Masters on ferries, from the existing maximum one year period to a maximum of three years.   It will also allow for existing holders of Pilot Exemption Certificates to apply for new certificates in the period leading up to 29 March, even if their existing Exemption Certificate may not have expired.

 

Part 10 – Third Country Bus Services

 

• The purpose of this Part is to provide on a precautionary basis for a regulatory regime in relation to bus and coach passenger services between Ireland and a country which is not part of the EU.

 

Part 11 – Amendments to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005

 

• This Part enables the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection to make orders with regard to arrangements with other States. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has finalised an agreement in the field of social security with the UK under the Common Travel Area, which effectively provides for the continuation of current arrangements post Brexit. 

 

Part 12 – Amendments to the Protection of Employees (Employers’ Insolvency) Act 1984

 

• In a no deal scenario, once the UK leaves the EU and becomes a third country, employers in a state of insolvency under the laws of the UK would no longer fall within the scope of the Protection of Employees (Employers’ Insolvency) Act unless it is amended. The purpose of this Part is to ensure that, in the event of an employer becoming insolvent under the laws of the UK, their employees who work and pay PRSI in Ireland, will continue to be covered by the protections set out in the Act.

 

Part 13 – Amendment of Extradition Act 1965 

 

• In the event of a no deal Brexit the European Arrest Warrant system will cease to apply to the UK. This Part provides for the maintenance of arrangements in relation to extradition of citizens between Ireland and the UK under the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition.

 

Part 14 – Immigration

 

• These provisions amend the Immigration Act 1999 and 2003 to confirm that immigration officers, in considering removing or deporting a person from the State, have, in line with EU and international obligations, the power to undertake refoulement consideration. 

 

Part 15 – Miscellaneous 

 

• This Part provides that the term ‘Member State’ where used in any enactment shall be interpreted as including the UK for the duration of any transition period, in the context of a withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU being ratified by the UK.

 

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