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Brexit weakens Europe
It is di cult to find anything positive in the whole Brexit
debacle. If it has served any useful purpose, it is the fact
that the various debates on the issue of Britain's proposed
secession from the European Union have clarified in many
people's minds the enormous influence the Union has
on our lives and economic wellbeing. As a trading nation,
hugely dependent on selling our goods and services across
the globe, the numerous trade agreements the EU has
successfully negotiated are easily recognised on this side
of the Irish Sea. Quite why there is not the same realisation
in the UK of this very positive aspect of EU membership is
not as clear. It is not as if Britain is an independent fiefdom
without any need of strong links with the rest of the world
to import and export a myriad of products. The fact that
Britain is still a very large economy does mean that it can
withstand the shock of withdrawal from the EU. It is becoming
increasingly clear, however, that `going it alone' will carry a
heavy economic and financial cost. It is simply not possible to
replicate overnight the kinds of trade ties and agreements that
membership of the EU has provided.
In Ireland, we have become fully aware of the collateral
damage to our economy that will be caused if Britain fails
to agree Brexit terms with the EU that fully minimise the
disruption to trade and tra c movement between our
countries. While, at the time of writing, Theresa May could
secure no majority for her government's proposed agreement
with the EU, neither is there, in the House of Commons,
any majority for leaving the EU without a deal. That has to
be somewhat reassuring as the hope is that a `least-worst'
agreement will emerge at the eleventh hour that will secure,
with minimum disruption or cost, our export trade to the UK
and our requirements for ease of transit through the UK to
our European markets.
While we, rightly, worry about the immediate impact on this
country of trade disruption in the aftermath of Brexit, there
are also larger geo-political issues that will a ect us in the
medium and long term because of the British decision. As a
democratic entity with immense economic and significant
political influence in the world, the absence of Britain from
the European Union weakens that EU structure and weakens
the benign influence the Union can have in international
politics. Ireland and the rest of the European Union are
developing deeper trading links with China. At the same time
China is extending its political and economic influence across
vast swathes of Asia and Africa. Russia continues to engage in
activities that reflect the looser definitions of democracy and
international diplomacy that are hallmarks of that country.
Meanwhile the USA lurches towards a more insular attitude
in its dealings with the rest of the world. All of those realities
have implications for Europe and Ireland in the years ahead.
What a pity that the UK should choose to diminish its potential
as a key influencer in world events through its membership
of the EU and instead opt for a more precarious existence as
a peripheral island nation, albeit one still equipped with large
economic, financial and military resources.
4 Upfront
8 News
12 Business news
14 Interview
Commissioner Phil Hogan on
Brexit, CAP and the environment
17 Farmview
Beware of chasing the last litre
20 Education
25 Calf Rearing focus
36 Management hints
42 Safety
44 Machinery
48 Rural life
53 Motoring
54 Very end
FTMTA Show Guide
Serving the industry: FTMTA President
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Exhibitor listings 2019