This morning, 22 February 2019, the Irish Government published the ‘Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019’ (“Brexit Bill”). The Brexit Bill deals with changes to Irish laws that will be needed in the event of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without an agreement on 29 March (“No Deal Brexit”).

As part of the announcement, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said he hopes the Brexit Bill will not be needed and will “sit on the shelf”, a reference to the government’s desire to avoid a No Deal Brexit.

The Brexit Bill consists of 15 different parts which fall under the remit of 9 different government ministers. Part 4 of the Brexit Bill is the only provision of relevance to the energy market should the Brexit Bill come into effect.

Part 4 – Amendment of the Electricity Regulation Act 1999

Part 4 would amend the Electricity Regulation Act 1999 and would allow the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (the “CRU”) to quickly modify licences of Irish-based participants in the wholesale electricity market. This right will only be available for a period of one year after the 2019 Bill becomes operational and amendments would only be permitted where the CRU “considers it necessary or expedient to do so in order of [Ireland] to comply with” (1) the European Union’s rules for cross-border trade in the Electricity Market Regulations, and (ii) the Electricity Market Directive.

In effect, the power to amend contained in Part 4 seeks to ensure that any issues of non-compliance with EU law can be addressed, while allowing for the facilitation of Ireland’s all-island Integrated Single Electricity Market (“I-SEM”).

Next Steps

The Brexit Bill is due before the Seanad for review the week commencing 11 March 2019. As an issue of priority, the Government has stated that, should the Brexit Bill be accepted, it would be ready for commencement by 29 March 2019.

Relevant Links

A link to the Brexit Bill can be found here.

A copy of the Explanatory Memorandum can be found here.

If you would like to discuss how to ensure your business can navigate the potential pitfalls of Brexit, or indeed discuss any other matters, please contact Garret Farrelly.