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Post Brexit: What’s in store for Ireland’s relationship with the UK?

Brexit means Brexit. But the big question is how will it impact business and the single market? We caught up with Dan O'Brien, Chief Economist at The Institute of International and European Affairs to discuss what he thinks is in store for the Irish M&A community post Brexit.

Jennifer Moss: Can you outline a couple of likely scenarios with how the UK and EU negotiations will play out?

Dan O'Brien: The range of possible scenarios for Britain's negotiations on leaving the EU is very wide. There is uncertainty as to when the negotiations will start, how the 27 remaining members will involve themselves in the talks, and whether exit negotiations happen simultaneously with talks on a new EU-UK arrangement or whether exit negotiations will have to be concluded before the new relationship is discussed. Economically the most important issue is Britain's relationship with the single market. Again, at this juncture the range of possibilities is very wide, from an eventual reversal of the decision to leave to an EEA-type arrangement (very unlikely), to a comprehensive trade and investment deal, a la Canada.

JM: What’s in store for the Irish Republic’s relationship with the UK?

DOB: Britain's departure from the EU is a strategic nightmare for Ireland. For a small open economy with limited political power having Britain locked into European political and economic structures was an ideal arrangement. Inevitably a British departure will increase the barriers to trade and investment across the Irish sea. The only question is how big those barriers will be.

JM: Do you have a forecast for the economic impact to Ireland from Brexit?

DOB: In terms of forecasting the impact of Brexit for Ireland, I don't do a numbers forecast and in truth any such forecast is a very limited value because predicting future economic developments is extremely difficult even in normal times (I say that is someone who spent a decade forecasting at the Economist Intelligence Unit in London). What can be said, however, is that the more barriers there are the commerce, the less commerce that takes place. As such, Britain's departure from the EU means trade and investment between Britain and Ireland will in the future be lower than it would otherwise have been if Britain had remained.

JM: Outside of the UK, where do the biggest trading opportunities lie for Irish business (either countries or sectors)?

DOB: Opportunities for Ireland outside the UK remain focused on the European single market. Despite a lot of talk about the BRIC economies, geographic proximity still matters a great deal when it comes to trade. The European market remains to be fully exploited particularly by homegrown Irish companies.


If you would like to hear more from Dan he will be speaking at the Deal Drivers Ireland Forum on 14 September in Dublin. Click here to find out more and how to book your place  

Jennifer Ghoni Speakers Acuris

Jennifer is responsible for speakers and event programmes at Acuris. She leads content for Unquote's European private equity conferences and Mergermarket's M&A events in Eastern Europe, Nordics, Spain, UK, Ireland, Benelux and Switzerland. 

Jennifer Ghoni Speakers Acuris

Jennifer is responsible for speakers and event programmes at Acuris. She leads content for Unquote's European private equity conferences and Mergermarket's M&A events in Eastern Europe, Nordics, Spain, UK, Ireland, Benelux and Switzerland. 

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