13 January 2021

MEP Billy Kelleher, former Irish Minister for Trade, shares his take on TCA

With the EU and UK negotiators having agreed in December on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), specialists are analysing the text to get a better understanding of what this means for each sector.

Ceemet – European Tech & Industry Employers has done so too for the metal, engineering and technology-based (MET) industries. For its Board of Directors meeting, Billy Kelleher – Ireland’s former Minister of Labour Affairs and Trade, Commerce & Industry, MEP in the committee of Economic and Monetary Affairs and Head of the Fianna Fáil delegation in the European Parliament – was invited to share his view on the TCA.

© European Union 2019

From convergence to divergence

The starting point of the EU-UK future relationship negotiations are atypical. Unlike any other trade agreement, the starting point of the talks are convergence of rules moving towards divergence and how to make the latter possible.

The very aspirational element of certain commitments and no proper arbitration rules are elements of concern. As mentioned by others too, there is an agreement, but the negotiations aren’t over.

Mutual recognition of professional qualifications

Both, MEP Kelleher and Ceemet Board members agreed that the mutual recognition of professional qualifications should have been part of the TCA.

For an industry sector with a cross-border supply chain, that is already facing a shortage of well-skilled workers, this adds an additional layer of challenges which they have to stem. Solutions to tackle this specific issue exists, but they require time before they are implemented. And if there is one message that hasn’t changed for the MET sector, than it is that there is little time left to ensure a smooth functioning of industry.