Brexit and the Future of Northern Ireland
Federico Fabbrini (ed), The Law & Politics of Brexit, Oxford University Press, 2017, ISBN 9780198810438
DCU Brexit Institute - Working paper N. 1 - 2017
21 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2018 Last revised: 9 Feb 2018
Date Written: June 12, 2017
The paper examines Brexit and the Northern Ireland question, arguing that the withdrawal of the UK from the EU creates tremendous difficulties for the region. As the paper explains, the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is the only physical frontier between the EU and the UK, and the introduction of a hard border would have huge impact: first, on free movement of goods, with implications for the economy; second on free movement of people, with effect on the Common Travel Area which has existed there since the 1920s; and thirdly on the peace process, potentially threatening the endurance of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which put an end to over 40 years of sectarian conflict. As the paper underlines, given the peculiar situation of Northern Ireland, specific solution ought to be identified – and a number of options can be considered. In terms of free movement of goods, the paper points to the Cyprus model, where good produced in Northern Cyprus can enter into Cyprus without custom duties. In terms of free movement of people, it suggests that, given the insular nature of Ireland, immigration controls could be moved into the Irish Sea. And in terms of the peace process, it recommends that the spirit if not the letter of the Good Friday Agreement be preserved, notably by avoiding any symbol of division (such as a hard border) which may catalyze opposition. As the paper concludes, however, both the UK and the EU seem fully cognizant of the sensitivity of the Northern Irish question, which raises some optimism on the possibility of finding a pragmatic solution for the region.
Keywords: Brexit, Northern Ireland, Good Friday Agreement
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