Deputy Jackie Cahill
With Taosieach Leo Varadkar scheduled to meet his UK counterpart Teresa May face-to-face this week, Fianna Fáil TD and Spokesperson on Horticulture and Food, Jackie Cahill has said that Ireland must focus on further developing its relationship with France in a post-Brexit world to ensure Irish agri-business remains strong.
The Tipperary TD was speaking after a meeting with the new French Ambassador to Ireland, Stéphane Crouzat, in his role as vice-chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee.
Mr Varadkar and Ms May were due to meet on the sidelines of a EU summit in Gothenburg, Sweden.
“At present, there is €10bn in trade flowing between Ireland and France, and this must grow in a post-Brexit world,” said Deputy Cahill
The Irish agri-food sector is a major exporter of Irish produce to France.
Of course, the British market has traditionally been our main export market, but with Brexit coming quickly down the tracks, it was time to diversify into other markets, he said.
“France has a population of 66.9 million people which is comparable to that of the UK, and we need to strengthen and grow our commons links so both sides can prosper,” said Deputy Cahill.
He said that Ireland and France had common and shared goals with regard to the Common Agriculture Policy.
“We need to work together even more so as Britain leaves the European Union,” he said.
There were those within the EU who would use the UK withdrawal from the Union to downgrade the importance of this plan, and the importance of farm families and locally produced food products to the European economy, said Deputy Cahill.
"Our meeting was constructive, and in addition to Brexit and the CAP, we held discussions on climate change, the role of forestry, and the Mercosur trade agreement.
“Now more than ever, the entente cordiale between our two nations needs to be encouraged and deepened,” he said.