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Cost of EU withdrawal to be central focus for ETI committee

10 February, 2015 - by Phil Flanagan

The Assembly’s Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee has agreed to commission an independent assessment of the potential economic implications of the north of Ireland being taken out of Europe along with Britain.

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan proposed the research during a briefing with Open University Economist Dr Leslie Budd at a committee meeting this morning.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Flanagan, who is the Deputy Chair of the Committee said:

“The continuing ability of anti-European elements in Britain to dominate the Westminster election with talk of a British withdrawal from Europe, which would take us with them, is concerning for people on the island of Ireland.

“We should be continuing our work to better improve all-island and cross-border working arrangements instead of going down the road of being dragged out of the European Union by right wings Eurosceptics.

“We have a situation in which the British government has committed to holding a referendum on membership of the EU with no consideration of the implications to the north. A British withdrawal from Europe could lead to restrictions on island wide trade and island wide movement.

“To date, there is a complete absence of work carried out to assess the potential economic implications of such a move for this part of Ireland specifically. It is vital therefore, that we approach these matters fully informed of all of the facts.

“For us in the north of Ireland, and particularly those who live and work in the border counties north and south, any change in our membership of the EU could have drastic consequences. In the current economic climate we should be focused upon building the island economy. The withdrawal of Britain from Europe will split the island economy and fracture border communities.”

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