Ireland: Brexit Developments and Debates
Brexit Institute Working Paper Series No 4/2022
16 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 28, 2022
Ireland, as the closest neighbour of the United Kingdom, was peculiarly affected by the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union. Lengthy disagreements over the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol have, however, somewhat obscured two significant issues related to Ireland’s place in the EU that Brexit has occasioned. In April 2017, the European Council decided that if Irish unification should occur, Northern Ireland would become part of the EU without the standard accession process. This raises significant questions for the EU: What interests of the EU would be implicated by Irish unification? Given those interests, when – if at all – should the EU involve itself in discussions about unification? The second somewhat obscured issue concerns how Ireland will function as an EU Member State without the UK. Although EU membership is largely seen as a critical factor in allowing Ireland to disentangle itself both politically and economically from the UK, the two countries worked closely together as Member States. Brexit has therefore changed Ireland’s role in the EU, and unification would change it again.
Keywords: Brexit, constitutional referendums, EU accession, Irish unification, Northern Ireland
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