Paschal Donohoe, the Irish Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, said that a "no deal Brexit" might still be on the cards, Reuters reported. The official added that it is was "difficult to calibrate" how big a risk it was, but said that it was something Ireland needed "to plan for".
"It (Brexit) is back as a risk, it's back as a risk that we all need to plan for, and we will know just before the summer exactly what kind of issue this is going to be. It's difficult to calibrate it now", the minister said during a virtual conference.
"I am pretty balanced in my assessment of where it as the moment. At this point it is too early to add to our pessimism and too early to add and create a sense of unjustified optimism. We are in the middle firmly at the moment", Donohoe added.
The Irish finance minister warned last summer about the "growing risk" of Britain leaving the European Union without a comprehensive trade deal. However, after much debate, the UK managed to agree upon a withdrawal agreement and effectively left the bloc on 31 January 2020.
The country has now entered a 11-month transition period, while remaining both within the customs union and EU single market. It is now expected to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union that will stipulate rules over tariffs, quotas and other trade barriers that might emerge after the transition period ends. The level playing field rules are also at stake in these discussions, as British politicians have repeatedly criticised the idea that London could still be bound to follow the rules of the European Court of Justice after leaving the bloc.
However, after three rounds of talks, both parties still complained about “the lack of progress on the most significant outstanding issues”, according to comments by the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost. This statement was echoed by negotiators from the European Union.
The UK is also seeking to formalise new trading relationships with partners around the world, including the US. Formal talks on a free trade deal between Washington and London were launched at the start of May.