Brexit Fund must be targeted at border areas: Chris MacManus MEP

Chris MacManus MEP & David Winton – Director of the Northern Western Regional Assembly

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has welcomed the approval of the €5bn Brexit Adjustment Reserve this week by the European Parliament.  The Midlands Northwest MEP said Ireland’s share of approximately €1bn must be focused ‘on where Brexit has had and will have the biggest impact, specifically the border region’.
 
MacManus was speaking following a meeting with the Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Mr. David Minton. 
 
MacManus said:
 
“This week the European Parliament agreed to the deal established with the Member States on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, known as the Brexit Fund. Although the deal is not as good for Ireland as the original proposal it still represents an important act of solidarity.”
 
“I will be working to ensure that the State’s share of the fund is spent in the border regions where Brexit has hit hardest. The lion’s share must be directed to helping workers and business decimated by Brexit along the border and agencies such as the Northern and Western Regional Assembly need to have a central role in this regard. I have long argued that this fund along with PEACE, structural funds, the EU’s Pandemic Recovery Fund of almost €1bn to Ireland alongside regional aid changes could form an important investment package for the border and Northwest region.”
 
The Sinn Féin MEP highlighted the long term effects of Brexit and the border. “My message to the EU is that while this act of solidarity is appreciated Brexit is not a short-term problem and the structural issues it has created and exposed must also be tackled and that includes partition. The EU needs to begin a conversation on the potential social and economic impact of Irish Unity in the future.”
 
MacManus concluded by highlighting the increased hardship that Brexit has brought on coastal and fishing communities:
 
“Irish coastal and fishing communities are another example of communities that have been hit hard by Brexit. The outcome of this Brexit trade deal amounts to another cut to quota and income to our Irish fishing fleet that was already struggling to survive. The response from the Dublin government has been pathetic. Not only should the Dublin government be fighting for greater financial supports, but more importantly, they should also be actively campaigning for burden sharing when it comes to quota cuts.” 

Government authorisation of €750bn EU borrowing without any public or Dáil debate ‘a concern’ – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP and Member of the EU Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee Chris MacManus has said the decision by the government to sign off on €750bn of borrowing by the EU Commission should have only been taken after a full public and Dáil debate given the importance of the decision, which is known as the ‘Own Resources Decision’.
 
The Midlands Northwest MEP said:
 
“On the 12th May, without any public notice or announcement, the government signed off on facilitating the EU Commission borrowing €750bn to finance the EU Recovery Fund. This decision was notified to the EU Council by the Irish government offices in Brussels. This is an unprecedented commitment for the EU Commission to take on.”
 
“The fact that the decision was taken without the slightest effort at debate or scrutiny is a cause for concern and raises serious long-term questions for this State. “
 
“Sinn Féin support a stimulus plan to aid the EU Recovery but this rubber-stamping of an unprecedented borrowing facility for the EU Commission should not have passed without any debate or Dáil scrutiny.  €750bn can now be borrowed by Brussels but there is no clear indication how it will be repaid.”
 
“Will new EU taxes – which many in the EU want – like corporate tax contributions, environmental taxes and other taxes like a Digital Levy flowing directly into Brussels be used to repay the loans or will Member States have to repay with net contributors like Ireland paying more? These questions should have been answered before the government signed off on this decision.”
 
MacManus said such a major decision should be subject to thorough domestic debate. “Twenty Member States’ parliaments have to approve such a decision, with only seven states including Ireland seemingly allowing a government to rubber-stamp with no debate or scrutiny. The minimum scrutiny should have been a full Dáil debate and vote. In Finland a passionate national debate over the issue occurred. For decades to come the State might be paying for this decision or alternatively face EU taxes which the government says it is opposed to.”
 
The Sinn Féin MEP concluded, “Taking this decision on the quiet serves the Irish people poorly. This is no way to build public confidence in the EU recovery fund or to encourage solidarity.”