Irish politician Neale Richmond who spoke in The New European said, “Britain’s loss of easy access to the single market is now potentially a gain for Ireland. We need to aggressively pursue opportunities for Irish producers to replace British suppliers in EU market places.”
The Irish politician warned that the UK exiting the EU had created a major shift for Irish companies while insisting that there “has been a move away from the use of the UK landbridge to move goods to continental Europe”.
Mr Richmond said, “Though there was huge relief in the securing of an eleventh-hour trade agreement between the UK and the EU on Christmas Eve, avoiding tariffs on our exports to the UK, the seamless Ireland-UK trade we once knew is a thing of the past.”
Neale Richmond also addressed the increase of Irish direct trade to Europe, avoiding the UK as a landbridge, saying, “Rosslare, Ireland’s closest port to the mainland, has seen a 446 per cent increase in freight volumes on their direct shipping routes compared to last year. Rosslare now offers 30 direct sailings per week to the continent, compared to 10 per week in 2020.”
However, MEPs are working to drive a wedge between Scotland and the rest of the UK with a last-gasp push to allow students north of the border to retain access to its Erasmus exchange programme.
But the agreement is currently being scrutinised by both the trade committee and the committee on foreign affairs, and the Parliament could vote as early as February 23 – though there’s still an option of asking for an extension.
In December 2020, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would rather set up its own scheme, to be named after UK computing pioneer Alan Turing, with “the best universities in the world”.
Meanwhile, MEPs are pushing for last-minute changes, with Terry Reintke, a member of the Green Party from Germany, tweeting: “Together with 144 colleagues – I have sent this letter to the Commission:
“To explore ways for Scotland and Wales to stay in Erasmus. For me, it is also a tribute to all the wonderful people who made me feel welcome and at home in Edinburgh during my own Erasmus year.”
In a separate comment piece posted on the EU Observer website, Markus Gastinger, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Austria’s University of Salzburg, argued the assembly should go even further.
“There is one last chance to save Erasmus. The European Parliament still has to give its assent to the deal. It could make this assent conditional on the UK’s full participation in Erasmus.
“It would be perfectly within its gift to demand that Erasmus continues uninterrupted for all EU and British students.
“It would not be the first time that the EP requires changes to an agreement already negotiated by the Commission and Erasmus really should not be sacrificed on the altar of Brexit,” He wrote.