Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Do I correctly understand that is is quite feasible to have a customs border for the whole of the island of Ireland, with Northern Ireland, for world trade purposes, being part of Ireland? I don't see why not. And further, could, in this context, trade between Northern Ireland businesses and persons with the UK only be treated as an internal UK matter? If so, might this be a least bad resolution for Northern Ireland? Would Ireland accept such a solution? And could such a deal as the backstop be agreed by the UK Parliament and the EU?

No babies would be cut in half with this deal, IMO.

The problem, of course, is that such a deal would guarantee a Brexit, albeit with a deal. should the Schengen agreement be retained for persons of the EU and UK as a result of negotiations subsequent to the agreed Brexit many of the worst aspects of Brexit could be ameliorated.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 9th, 2019 at 07:56:26 PM EST
Effectively, if the Northern Ireland backstop is implemented (and remember it is only an insurance policy to be implemented if a FTA between the UK and EU or other arrangements result in regulatory misalignment or tariffs becoming payable) N. Ireland would remain both in the UK and within the Customs Union and Single Market (CUSM).

This would be analogous to Greenland remaining part of the Kingdom of Denmark but outside the EU (following a referendum in Greenland). The EU is agreeable to this and it is a sensible compromise in a situation where a majority in N. Ireland want to remain in the UK, and also in the EU.

If implemented all tariff and other checks on trade between the UK and Ireland will take place at air and sea ports on the Island. (This could result in EU Customs officers being placed at Belfast and Larne ports and Belfast airport or supervising UK customs officers to implement EU law). As a practical matter, this is a lot more doable than trying to put checkpoints on 300 road crossing points along the 500km IE/NI border.

For the purposes of trade N. Ireland will remain part of the EU and trade between N. Ireland and Great Britain will be treated in the same way as any other trade between Great Britain and the EU. (It will not, therefore, be treated as internal UK trade, which is why the DUP are so opposed to it.

However as the DUP has spent the last three years lecturing the Irish government on how new technology could make trade across the Irish Border seamless and friction free, it is difficult for them now to argue that customs controls at ports (which apply to third country imports already) will somehow be a constraint on trade.

Neither Ireland or the UK are part of the Schengen passport free travel zone and that will not change, so the Common travel area between Ireland and the UK will be maintained and travel from both to EU countries within the zone will require passports as before.

I doubt any deal negotiated by Boris Johnson will be approved by the House of Commons, and the only question is whether this results in a change of government without an election, a second referendum, or a general election in some combination or order.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 9th, 2019 at 10:08:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There could be one unified Republic of Eire.
by StillInTheWilderness on Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 03:48:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't see that coming, did you.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 05:03:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not for a while, but some more economic convergence on the island of Ireland and more economic divergence between Ireland and Great Britain could be seen as steps in this direction, and for that reason are greatly feared by the DUP. But if they didn't want this to happen, they shouldn't have been cheer leading for Brexit against the wishes of the vast majority in N. Ireland...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 05:12:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
North Ireland with one leg in EU and one leg in UK would have a good opportunity for building up their economy. And I'm not just refering to smuggling.
by fjallstrom on Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 08:55:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And one less reason to be in the UK.
One Ireland, economically integrated into Europe makes a lot of sense to me.

Disclosure: As a Chicagoan I was brought up on the idea of Irish Unity. I have no Irish ancestry but there are plenty of people in Chicago who are and they are/were very outspoken.

by StillInTheWilderness on Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 09:16:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Within the Good Friday Agreement is the right to leave UK and join Ireland if and when the population of North Ireland so wishes.

And more people are so wishing.

The five most recent opinion polls taken in the North show similar results, with support for the North staying in the UK ranging from 45 per cent to 55 per cent, and averaging around the 50 per cent mark.

But the polls do show differences in support for a united Ireland (depending on the number of Don't Knows/Not Sures recorded in the polling). This doesn't mean the polls are wrong, it just shows the current situation is very fluid, and that there is a lot of "changing of minds", particularly on the pro-united Ireland side.

However, there is still a large rabidly unionist portion of the population, judging by the continued support for the DUP. And DUP has power in Stormont, the dead-locked Northern Ireland devolved government, which presumably would be the ones organising the referendum.

Also, if North Ireland joined Ireland now, there would be economic problems on both sides of the island. North Ireland's economy is propped up by large transfers from London, which Ireland could ill afford within the euro framework that prevents deficit spending. Also, with the large economic difference, the result has large risk to be like the German unification, everything in the North gets bought up by the southerners, leading to long term problems and resentment.

Both of these problems are likely to become less pronounced if North Ireland goes through a period of economic growth with North Ireland for all practical purposes within the EU. Being a border territory with access to both EU and UK would be a good foundation for that. Of course, if political actions are necessary to take advantage of the situation, the Stormont needs to stop being dead-locked.

by fjallstrom on Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 09:37:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stormont. Aye, there's the rub.
The fact that it was not restored during the period of a Con/DUP Westminster majority is proof that the DUP doesn't want it. Now they have less leverage, but can still refuse it... Leading mechanically to direct rule in November, if I have understood correctly.

It's hard to see the DUP in anything other than a wrecking role, if the Ireland economic zone goes through (as it must). Hard to see how either a Conservative or a Labour government could buy them off.

Troubles ahead...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 11th, 2019 at 08:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trade is not a devolved power, so Stormont would never have had a role in it anyway. The only reason it is being mentioned now is to give some fig leaf of "democratic accountability" to N. Ireland being subject to the rules of the CUSM, without having a say in their formulation.

But Stormont never had a say in their formulation as part of the UK in any case, so the more appropriate bodies, established under the Good Friday Agreement are are the Strand 2 (North South) bodies:
    North/South Ministerial Council
    North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association
    North/South Consultative Forum

And the Strand 3 (East West) bodies

    British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference
    British-Irish Council
    An expanded British-Irish Inter-parliamentary Body

These institutions have been criminally neglected since the GFA was signed and giving them responsibility for trade would give them some much needed relevance (without giving the DUP a veto).

The other advantage of this arrangement, from a UK government perspective, is that they could claim to have taken the Backstop out of the hated Withdrawal Agreement and come to a bi-lateral arrangement with the Republic of Ireland instead, via an amended Good Friday Agreement.

Of Course the Good Friday Agreement is an international Treaty, lodged with the United Nations, and no less binding on future UK governments than the withdrawal Agreement. The EU would have to agree or act as co-guarantor (together with the existing guarantors, the UK, Irish, and US governments) but that could be buried in the small print.

I don't think British people or their government have a problem with trade being managed on an all-Ireland basis and the GFA can provide a democratic and accountable framework for doing so.  But that would provide the DUP with a unilateral veto, and therein lies the rub...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Sep 11th, 2019 at 09:13:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wouldn't rather than would in the last sentence...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Sep 11th, 2019 at 09:16:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it is only an insurance policy to be implemented if a FTA between the UK and EU or other arrangements result in regulatory misalignment or tariffs becoming payable

In other words, everyone who is opposing May's deal because of the backstop is envisioning the impossibility of agreeing a suitable trade agreement.

by asdf on Tue Sep 10th, 2019 at 09:49:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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