With the EU exit negotiations on track, the Government is taking a gamble that the economy will be able to emerge from the post-Brexit uncertainty, at least temporarily.
“I believe it will be possible to recover the economy within the timeframe we set out in the Autumn Statement, with the economic conditions being able to stabilise,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday.
But he warned that the Government would not rule out a “hard landing”, if the economy did not return to pre-Brexit growth and employment levels by the end of 2020.
He added: “The economy is in a period of adjustment.
It’s a period where we’ve got to be very careful with what we say because the uncertainty has not gone away and there are things that we’re not yet sure about, but it’s a process that we will continue to go through.”
He added that Ireland would have to make “very strong and timely commitments” to its own trade commitments, such as in relation to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with China and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
In a press conference at the National Press Club, the Taoiseakt expressed his frustration at the lack of progress on any of the key areas that he has repeatedly called for the Government to address.
As the UK has moved on from its departure from the EU, he has been forced to make tough choices, particularly on immigration.
Kenny said Ireland has been the most heavily affected by migration, with 1.2 million people coming to the country from outside Europe each year, and said this will continue until the Government implements “fair and orderly migration arrangements”.
However, he said that he would not commit to a ceiling on immigration, saying “we don’t want to create a wall that we can’t cross”.
He also reiterated his commitment to the Common Travel Area (CTA), a move that the EU has said would take place on the same date as the UK leaves.
The Taoiseake said he would make a decision on the future of the EEA by the middle of next year.
And he repeated his call for a “proper” Irish language in schools, saying he would like to see Irish schools taught in all official languages, regardless of the country of origin.
Speaking at a press briefing on a meeting of the Government’s Brexit Taskforce, the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said that while the Government was “not yet clear” on the timing of the formal exit agreement, there were “good grounds” for concluding that Brexit will have an “immediate and substantial” impact on Ireland’s economy.