Report on a Special Designated Status for Northern Ireland Post-Brexit: An Independent Opinion Commissioned by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group of the European Parliament

23 Pages Posted: 1 May 2018

See all articles by Nikos Skoutaris

Nikos Skoutaris

University of East Anglia, School of Law

Date Written: April 13, 2018

Abstract

The EU-UK Joint Report of December 2017 recognised the possibility for a differentiated Brexit that would allow Northern Ireland to maintain a special relationship with the EU. Such an arrangement could occur if addressing the challenge of the Irish border through the overall future EU-UK relationship proves impossible and if the specific technological solutions the UK proposes are deemed insufficient. Indeed, the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland of the draft UK Withdrawal Treaty the EU published on 28 February 2018 codified such a ‘backstop option’.

The present Independent Opinion suggests that the UK Withdrawal Agreement should recognise the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland by providing for a special designated status. Such a status should be understood as a mutually agreed arrangement that will respect and protect the unique constitutional status of the region as provided by all three Strands of the Good Friday Agreement. In particular, the special designated status should respect the principle of consent and the right of self-determination by providing for a legal route for the reintegration of Northern Ireland into the EU. This status should protect the all-island economy by allowing for the participation of the region in the single market and/or the EU Customs Union (EUCU). This situation should not happen at the expense of weakening ‘East-West’ institutions, however (i.e. between the Republic of Ireland and the UK); in fact, their strengthening will be necessary in order to manage the tensions that Northern Ireland’s remaining in the single market and the EUCU would likely cause to its economic relationship with the rest of the UK.  

Keywords: EU law; Territorial Differentiation; Brexit; Northern Ireland; Good Friday Agreement; Conflict Resolution; Irish Border

Suggested Citation

Skoutaris, Nikos, Report on a Special Designated Status for Northern Ireland Post-Brexit: An Independent Opinion Commissioned by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) Group of the European Parliament (April 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3161311 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3161311

Nikos Skoutaris (Contact Author)

University of East Anglia, School of Law ( email )

UEA Law School
Norwich Research Park
Norwich, NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

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