Published: Mon, 09 May 2016
“As we celebrate Europe Day on May 9th, Europe’s founding moment, it is important that all EU citizens, and our UK neighbours, reflect on why the Union was founded in the first place – for peace, economic prosperity and solidarity. In that spirit of solidarity, it would be remiss not to highlight that Irish and UK trade is so interdependent that any so-called “Brexit” or exit by the UK from the EU would be disastrous for both countries”, MEP Seán Kelly said ahead of the UK referendum on June 23rd.
“The Centre for Economics and Business Research states that 3.1 million UK jobs are linked to EU trade. Over 110,000 are based in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Kelly, the leader of the Fine Gael delegation and member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee.
“Two-way trade between the UK and Ireland stands at over €1 billion a week. Ireland is the UK’s largest export market in food and drink, and second largest market in clothing, fashion and footwear. Meanwhile, the UK remains Ireland’s largest European export destination. The facts speak for themselves.”
In excess of 400,000 jobs in both Ireland and the UK are said to be dependent on the strong trading links between the two countries, half of which are based in Ireland. The ESRI has previously indicated that a Brexit could result in a fall of about 20% in Irish-UK trade.
“EU membership means trade barrier-free access to a Single Market of 500 million consumers and streamlined regulation, making trading much easier for SMEs.
Many pro-Brexit campaigners argue that the UK can renegotiate trade deals outside of the EU, but after withdrawing they would first face the daunting task of negotiating a Withdrawal Treaty and if they fail to do so within a certain timeframe, they would simply be outside the EU without any trade deal, according to the MEP.
“Exiting the EU would be a mistake for the UK when it can help reform from the inside. The Union is a work in progress, and has always adjusted with the times and it will again. The UK has a role to play in future reforms as does Ireland,” he warned.
“It was only in 2014, that Ireland and the UK launched their first ever joint trade mission, at the Singapore Airshow, as part of a strategy to strengthen relations over the next decade. And the peace process in Northern Ireland benefitted greatly from massive EU funding which fostered greater cooperation and understanding between the communities.
“I hope we can continue our relationship, within the EU, to benefit both economies and the lives of citizens in the UK and Ireland,” MEP Kelly concluded.
Europe Day commemorates the Schuman Declaration by the then French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, who on May 9th, 1950 called for the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community, which would ultimately become the EU. Its aim was to reunite Europe after the devastation of WWII, to rebuild the economy and prevent further war through economic interdependence.
Irish citizens living in the UK and other eligible voters can register at www.gov.uk/register-to-voteby the June 7th deadline.