Limiting the Harm from Brexit
Labour Party Manifesto 2020

Labour’s first priority is to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods. Decisions at EU level will be very important to help Ireland overcome the economic challenges of Brexit, especially for jobs and businesses that export to the UK or rely on the UK as a source of raw materials.

While our preference was always for the UK to stay in the EU (or to re-join), we have also pursued practical measures to protect jobs and businesses from the damaging effects of the United Kingdom leaving the EU.

  • We will always ensure the Good Friday Agreement is protected
  • Labour MEPs will champion the Good Friday Agreement at European level. We will continue to outline the unique circumstances on our island and ensure that Brexit does not prevent the free movement of people and businesses’ activity in Ireland
  • EU PEACE funding, which helps reinforce peaceful community relations, needs to be continued in Northern Ireland
  • Irish workers and businesses that are affected by Brexit need real support from Government and the European Union
  • Labour fully supports the call of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to allocate at least €500 million to deal with the negative consequences of Brexit. This will help stop businesses from going under and help prevent job losses, such as through financial support for short-time work schemes
  • Measures need to be put in place to protect sectors that are most vulnerable to Brexit. The agri-food, fisheries, tourism, transport and retail sectors all need specific plans to help them thrive in a post-Brexit environment. To do this we need flexibility on State Aid limits on public funding for those sectors that are hardest hit
  • We will insist that changes are made to the EU Globalisation Fund to ensure Irish workers affected negatively by Brexit can access financial and up-skilling supports
  • We need to ensure that additional supports are available to farmers and workers in agri-food industries and fisheries, through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)
  • We will continue to support and seek expansion of the EU’s Structural and Investment Funds in the period 2021-27, including the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and renewal of Horizon 2020 investment in science and technology
  • European Union funding and support is needed for the development of more direct transport links between Ireland and continental Europe. This must include ferry services, so we can reduce Ireland’s heavy reliance on haulage and freight that crosses Britain
  • People who work in Irish fisheries need enhanced protections as some EU members may look for more access to Irish waters if there is a loss of access to fishing in British waters
  • Irish exporters will need extra help to replace UK markets with markets inside the EU, and to enhance Irish trading and cultural links with other EU members, including trading via the Internet
  • Labour MEPs will look for a supports package to enhance maritime industry and ports, and regional airports and public transport, and to assist the development of rural broadband, renewable energy and connectivity to European electricity grids
  • Labour will insist on an open Irish border
  • The Labour Party is fully behind continued EU support for an open border on the island of Ireland
  • European Union rules need to be flexible to support existing businesses engaged in cross-border trade on our island. We need to make it as simple as possible for people to do business, with as little paperwork as possible
  • The EU must recognise the mutual rights of Irish and UK citizens as part of the Common Travel Area – including the rights of Irish citizens who are living in the UK and British citizens who live here in Ireland – especially if there is a no withdrawal agreement between the EU and UK
  • Labour MEPs will demand that Irish citizens’ EU rights – including social security and pension entitlements, and recognition of educational qualifications of those living in Northern Ireland and Britain – are fully protected after Brexit
  • The EU and the UK need to have a good working relationship in the future. Irish Labour MEPs would be well placed to promote this
  • If there is no second Brexit referendum held in the UK, then we need to ensure that any future relationship the EU has with the UK is as close as possible to one where Britain is a member of the Single Market and Customs Union
  • We will fully back any initiative from a future UK government for the UK to re-join the EU
  • It is vital that we continuously monitor how Brexit will impact wages and working conditions. If the UK engages in a race-to-the-bottom economic model, Labour MEPs will insist on measures in any future EU-UK trade agreement to counter-act any move to drive down wages in Ireland as a result of the UK’s trade policies
  • Under no circumstances should Ireland be exposed to low standard consumer products or food (such as chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef) which may be permitted into the UK market after Brexit
  • With our colleagues in the trade union movement, Labour MEPs will seek to ensure that the UK at least keeps the equivalent of EU standards into the future when it comes to important areas such as workers’ rights, consumer protection and for the environment
  • There needs to be continued EU funding for Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • European Regional Development Funding has benefitted so many rural communities in Ireland. We need to make sure that this funding stream continues
  • We will advocate for EU funding programmes in Northern Ireland to be maintained post-Brexit, particularly the PEACE IV and INTERREG VA programmes