Brexit backstop agreement ‘vital’

MEP’s were warned recently that the avoidance of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit is essential for Ireland’s whiskey and spirits industry.

William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Spirits Association, has been briefing MEPs at the European Parliament, stating that the whiskey and spirits industry needed “the maximum possible alignment” between the UK (particularly Northern Ireland) and the EU with a view to avoiding any disruption to cross-border supply chains which currently operate seamlessly on an integrated all-island basis.

If a better solution cannot be found through negotiations then the ‘backstop’ agreement must apply he told MEPs.

The Irish Spirits Association is part of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland which has been actively engaging with the Irish and UK governments and the EU Commission on a wide range of Brexit-related challenges and questions facing Ireland’s all-island drinks industry.

At this stage, it’s believed that a backstop would involve Northern Ireland, or possibly the UK as a whole, aligning with the EU rules required to support North-South cooperation and an all-island economy.

“The spirits industry is one of Ireland’s fastest-growing export sectors and one of the largest buyers of Irish agricultural raw materials,” he said, speaking at the event in Strasbourg, “Therefore, it’s essential that it’s safeguarded from risks associated with Brexit.

“One such risk is supply chain disruption between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“Currently there are many examples to demonstrate how Ireland’s drinks industry operates on an integrated all-island basis. Irish whiskey distillers in Northern Ireland purchase nearly all of their malted barley from the Irish Republic. Additionally, malt or grain whiskey produced in one jurisdiction is transported on a daily basis to the other as part of the production of blended whiskeys.

“Therefore, the avoidance of a hard border in Ireland is essential for the All-island spirits industry.”

The Brexit briefing in the European Parliament was organised by the Intergroup on Wine & Spirits where the speakers were:


  • the Director General of spiritsEurope Ulrich Adam
  • the Secretary General of the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins Ignacio Sanchez Recarte
  • the Deputy Director – EU & Brexit – of the Scotch Whisky Association Tom Sallis
  • the Head of the Irish Spirits Association William Lavelle.




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