Five key messages as Brexit negotiations go live

29 Mar 2017     Last updated: 29 Mar 2017

As the UK triggers Article 50 to begin Brexit negotiations, we still have no Northern Ireland government to represent our interests, and no clear position put forward in these negotiations. 

NICVA has been listening to the concerns of the NI voluntary and community sector and has five key messages for the negotiating parties;

Don’t let Brexit erode our peace and stability

The European Union’s direct support through successive PEACE programmes, and the all-island legal framework that shared EU membership provides on the island of Ireland have played a vital role in developing peace and stability.  Losing this framework and creating the necessity for a physical and economic border, poses a direct threat to the progress made in recent decades.  A Brexit deal must avoid this at all costs.

Don’t let Brexit damage our economy

The current EU funding round (2014-20) is providing over €3.5 Billion to Northern Ireland, including €2.3 Billion in farming subsidies, and over €900 million for peace-building, cross-border co-operation, rural development and supported employment important for voluntary and community sector organisations.  Over 60% of our exports go to EU countries, and over a third to (34%) to ROI. Sectors important to us like agri-food (34% of NI exports) are less so for the UK economy as a whole (10% of UK exports) raising concerns that UK trade deals will not favour our circumstances.  

A Brexit deal which does not recognise our circumstances, could place major economic pressures on our already overstretched public budgets and undermine our economy for which free all-island trade and movement of workers is so vital.

Don’t let Brexit take away our rights

Many voluntary and community organisations working to tackle inequalities and discrimination in our society fear losing protections afforded by EU legislation, such as the 2000 EU directive on equal treatment in employment and occupation which bans disability discrimination in employment.  It is vital that the Brexit deal nor subsequent changes in national legislation results in an erosion of these rights.

Don’t let Brexit harm our health

A bad Brexit deal threatens vital EU co-operation in medical research by charities and the future of all-island/cross-border health delivery and investment, as well as the major contribution of EU nationals in service delivery.  We urge those negotiating the terms of Brexit to secure a deal that retains our access to EU funding for medical and other research (as negotiated by non-EU countries like Norway) and does not undermine efforts to meet already major challenges in providing health services in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland

Don’t let Brexit endanger our environment

Much of the legislation that protects our environment, including our air quality, levels of pollution, disposal of waste, and the protection of our unique and precious natural environment comes from EU legislation.  For the sake of this and future generations, the Brexit deal must ensure that this protection is not lost.

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