Ex-Taoiseach Kenny addresses Matheson’s Brexit conference in New York

Enda Kenny, Matheson partner Elizabeth Grace  and Matheson managing partner Michael Jackson
Enda Kenny, Matheson partner Elizabeth Grace and Matheson managing partner Michael Jackson

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently addressed Matheson’s New York Brexit conference on the theme of Navigating Access to the EU Market Post-Brexit: Perspectives on Ireland.

The event focused on Brexit-related questions for US multinationals with business operations in Europe, including impacts on existing operating models and supply chains, and how multinationals with a significant presence in the UK can ensure continued access to European markets beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

Speaking from New York, Michael Jackson, managing partner of Matheson, said: “In the absence of the necessary clarity around Brexit, businesses are now making decisions to secure their long-term ability to access European markets beyond Brexit.

“Ireland’s proven track record of supporting internationally-focused companies means that it is strongly positioned to partner with these companies as they now make decisions around their medium to long-term plans. Ireland is committed to remaining at the heart of the EU and EU decision-making, and has a history of providing legal and regulatory certainty, tax certainty, access to European markets and substance. Ireland will be the only English-speaking, common law country in the EU post-Brexit and it is committed to its 12.5% corporation tax rate.”

US offices head John Ryan added: “At Matheson, we are committed to assisting our clients to prepare for Brexit and to keeping them up to date on European Brexit dialogue and political developments.

“Notwithstanding the uncertainty around global trade policy as well as US tax reform and the challenges around Brexit, Matheson sees the Irish-US relationship growing stronger and Ireland becoming an even more important gateway to EU markets for US companies.”

Mr Ryan led a panel session alongside Matheson’s US resident tax partner Mark O’Sullivan, examining the critical factors for US companies in developing their Brexit contingency plans.

Guest speakers included Paul Eddy, senior VP and group general counsel for International Insurance, Travelers; Brian P. Iaia, Esq, senior VP and general counsel at United Healthcare Global; and James Kelly, chairman, CEO, and founder of HedgeServ.

Mr Kenny said: “Nowhere is the challenge of politics and taking decisions in the interests of the people more clearly demonstrated than in trying to deal with the consequences of the Brexit vote in the UK. And when it comes to the negotiations between the UK government and the EU, I believe that not enough progress has been made in the first phase of talks to allow progression to the second phase.

“It’s also my view that a transition arrangement will be necessary, if and when the two-year timetable for negotiations is not met, and I think that transition period should take as long as is required to find a solution that works in the interest of all the people affected.

“Finally, the prospect of a ‘Hard Brexit’ that many are now discussing would, in my opinion, be catastrophic for business and by extension terrible for the people that politics is meant to serve. That is the challenge now for those involved directly in the ongoing talks.”