LONDON — Former WTO Director General and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy has warned that Ireland may need emergency aid in the event of a no deal Brexit.
The Republic of Ireland would be so badly damaged by the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a deal that it would require emergency supplies and support from Brussels, Lamy told RTÉ on Sunday .
“This is something that needs to be in our mind. Yes, Ireland would be the most hit both in quantity and proportion and then there should be some sort of EU solidarity,” Lamy, who served as WTO head for eight years, said.
Lamy’s warning comes amid increased concern that Brexit negotiations are headed for a no-deal outcome unless either the UK or EU ditches major red lines on the thorny issue of the Northern Irish backstop.
Lamy anticipated that there would likely be a spat between the EU member states and Britain over who should fund any emergency aid Ireland requires as a result of Brexit.
“This debate will come but at the end of the day this is something we will need to prepare for and will need to have in mind,” he said.
“Of course there would be people in the continent who say ‘why should we pay for the British not being able to agree on a solution’.”
No way to avoid a hard border
Lamy also said there would be “no way” to avoid a hard Irish border in the event of no deal and predicted that although some people in Europe do not “understand the complexities of the Irish Border,” the EU will protect it at all costs in Brexit negotiations.
“If there cannot be an agreement on the future trade regime and the UK nevertheless exits in March next year there has to be a solution that guarantees that there will be no border,” he said.
“Most Europeans do not know precisely about the history and relationship with Great Britain and Ireland.
“But there is a view on the continent that this Irish question is extremely sensitive I don’t think there is any risk of the Irish being let down on this question.”
Varadkar is “confident” a deal can be reached
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last week he was confident a Brexit deal will be reached. That being said, Ireland is planning for all potential Brexit scenarios, including no deal.
On Sunday, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson declared that Anglo-Irish relations have “unalterably changed” as a result of Brexit and said Northern Ireland may join with Ireland as one country.
Speaking at the MacGill Summer School, Robinson said : “There has been a settled understanding of the constitutional position of Northern Ireland and its interaction with both the rest of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
“Shaking that tree was certain to cause an abundant fall-out.”