In this essay I will discuss the repercussions of Brexit for Ireland, and how Ireland can attempt to mitigate the key issues of Brexit. The Irish Government have four priority areas surrounding Brexit: trade and the economy, Northern Ireland Peace Process, Common Travel Area, and the future of the E.U. (Irish Government Publication) I will discuss these in detail, and how Ireland plans to manage each priority concern, with reference to its diplomatic capacity.
In order to mitigate the potential risks to the Northern Ireland Peace Process, Ireland needs to: Protect the Good Friday Agreement, maintain EU support for the Peace Process, avoid a hard border on the island, and enhance drive for North?South cooperation. (IGP, Brexit priorities)
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, “Ireland’s interests are safeguarded during the negotiations on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and in a future EU-UK relationship. The “Department plays a lead role in formulating and delivering well-informed and coherent Irish contributions to the negotiations, making full use of our EU presence and reach.” This is backed up by Guy Verhofstadt who stated: “Ireland’s stance is the E.U.’s stance”, therefore Ireland has the backing of the E.U. meaning that Ireland can obtain a decent position post-Brexit compared to without the support of the E.U.
Ireland hopes to use its foreign policy to produce “sustainable solutions in the Brexit context, sustainable peace and enhanced reconciliation in Northern Ireland and to drive enhanced North-South cooperation, including through the North South Ministerial Council. Working with our Government partners, the Department and the Mission network will prioritise commemorations including the Battle of Messines, the end of WW1, and the First Dáil”
DFAT and our Mission network in the UK will prioritise strengthening the bilateral relationship with the UK and with the devolved administrations and delivering sustainable solutions in the Brexit context. The outcome would be “A bilateral relationship with theUK of enduring strength, reflecting the political, economic, people-to-people links that define our unique partnership”
Also of concern is citizenship, people born in Northern Ireland can still obtain Irish passports and thus E.U. citizenship. (European Parliament) This increase in Irish citizenship may be beneficial to the economy as it may cause a spin off effect of tourism/immigration. The surge in Irish passports also paints Ireland as a ‘fail-safe’ nation. This notion fulfils a key part of our foreign policy; promoting a positive image of Ireland.
Ireland can negotiate logically in order to obtain the most beneficial deal, however, in order to secure a frictionless border, there needs to be deep co-operation by all parties.
“All?Island Civic Dialogue process has seen a range of stakeholders and representatives, North and South, meet regularly to share concerns and real-life experiences. This has been an invaluable contribution to our Brexit preparations.”
With regards to trade and the economy, Ireland must: “Maintain close trade between UK and EU/Ireland, Minimise regulatory burden for goods transiting UK, Improve business environment – more competitive, diversified markets, better infrastructure, Pursue trade and investment opportunities from Brexit.”
Brexit will profoundly affect the Irish economy, what Ireland can hope to do is negotiate trade deals between Britain and Ireland: “agri-food products in particular are highly vulnerable to a hard Brexit.” However, it has been agreed that there will be no ‘hard’ Brexit: “as part of the Article 50 negotiating process, both the EU and the UK have recognised the importance of maintaining the CTA and avoiding a ‘hard’ border.” (IGP, Brexit Priorities)
When negotiating Brexit, Ireland is also safe guarded by the Good Friday Agreement, which is an international agreement. The U.K. cannot violate the Agreement which will help ensure some semblance of stability for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Negotiators will discuss issues such as: “the rights of EU citizens in the UK, the rights of UK citizens living in other parts of the EU, the UK’s financial commitments undertaken as ember state, border issues (especially the one between the UK and the Republic of Ireland), the seat of EU agencies currently based in the UK, and international commitments undertaken by UK as member state (for example the Paris agreement).”
Holyhead is also an issue aswell.
“The economies of Ireland and Northern Ireland are highly integrated with the value of trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland worth more than €2.5 billion in 2016. For example, “Roughly one-third of the milk produced in Northern Ireland is processed in the Republic while 40% of chicken produced in the south is processed north of the border.” (European Parliament News, 2017)
More than 225,000 commercial vehicles and 3.1 million cars cross the border each month. More than 23,000 commuters are estimated to cross the border each month.”
A 2013 study by the OCED found that “documentation and customs compliance requirements, lengthy administrative procedures and other delays can increase transaction costs an estimated 2 to 24% of the value of traded goods27 Regarding the impact of specific potential future customs compliance requirements, the total cost of acquiring a certificate or origin for exports from Northern Ireland has been estimated at more than €458 per consignment.” This level of integration has a huge impact on trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Ireland can use this to its advantage considering Northern Ireland is a part of the island of Ireland. Currently, Brexit negotiations have progressed to the second stage. The Republic of Ireland must negotiate trade deals compatible with E.U. regulations.
To ensure that the Common Travel Area remains in operation Ireland must: Commit jointly with UK to maintain the CTA, Confirm rights and benefits under the CTA, Build awareness and understanding amongst EU partners, Uphold free movement of EU citizens within the EU.” (IGP, Brexit Priorities)
A smart border is idealised by the E.U. The use of technology would create a virtually frictionless border like one between Norway and Sweden. Trusted trader programs (AEO programs) could be vital in border control. According to a query conducted by the European Commission, the AEO programs in Ireland and the U.K. are under-utilised. Currently, there are 139 AEOs in Ireland, and 604 AEOs for the U.K. (European Commission) “Traders known to authorities should be able to pass with “reduced checks.” (European Parliament)
In order to create a smart border, proposed is the use of “free movement lanes, enhanced licenses and collaboration between jurisdictions.” As well as that, people currently using CTA should be permitted to continue to do so as they are known to authorities. Security checks should take place in situations where those that require a passport/ there is suspicious activity. With regards to how free movement lanes would work, those travelling under CTA should be allowed to cross the border at any point. Check points should be established where the heaviest of road traffic is located for non-CTA travellers. “If people require a passport to enter or leave the island of Ireland, they will be required to present themselves at one of these crossings. If not, they will be considered to have entered illegally. If travelling through one of the major crossings, special lanes can be established for people travelling under the CTA supported by” (p.37) : enhanced driver’s licenses, RFID and ANPR, co-operative approach, and frequent traveller program. This use of technology will greatly assist in creating a frictionless border. This falls in line with the reaffirmation of both Ireland and the U.K. to the Common Travel Area in 2011. Despite neither Ireland nor the U.K. being members of the Schengen Area, “there are no passport controls for E.U. or non-E.U. citizens at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland,”
Neither Ireland nor the UK are members of the Schengen Area and so maintain passport controls for nationals of other EU countries.
Also of concern is citizenship, people born in Northern Ireland can still obtain Irish passports and thus E.U. citizenship. (European Parliament) Currently, there are 1.8 million people entitled to Irish passports. (GIP, Brexit Irelands Priorities) This increase in Irish citizenship may be beneficial to the economy as it may cause a spin off effect of tourism/immigration. The surge in Irish passports also paints Ireland as a ‘fail-safe’ nation. This notion fulfils a key part of our foreign policy; promoting a positive image of Ireland.
Brexit may prove beneficial to Ireland with regards to international investment. Due to Ireland being an English-speaking country, German companies are “investing less in the U.K.” According to Treier, “every ninth firm plans to repatriate investment to Germany or shift it to other locations.” This upheaval is something Ireland can take advantage of after Brexit talks. Ireland will need to diversify its market and the German market seems to be open for more trade. With regards to exports: “€15.6 billion of goods were exported to the U.K in 2014. While in 2015 exports to Great Britain accounted for 12.3% of total goods exported.” (CSO) While Brexit won’t stop Ireland from trading with the U.K., the Republic of Ireland will need to broaden its trade and diversify.
Due to the U.K.’s reliance on the E.U.’s market, Ireland can use this to negotiate better trade deals. “UK exports to the EU in 2016 were £240 billion, accounting for 44% of total UK exports” (Abboushi, 2017) Ireland could possibly negotiate a deal where it is used as the ‘middle man’ to trading with Europe, and profit from this trade arrangement by imposing taxes.
Ireland will need to exploit the native English-speaking language gap left in the E.U. The I.D.A. will promote Ireland as an attractive place to expand to, as Ireland will be the only native English-speaking country within the E.U./Eurozone. The IFS2020 Strategy intends to maximise growth in the financial services sector, the Government has actively engaged with this strategy by bidding for the relocation of the European Banking Authority to Ireland from England (Ireland negotiations). F.D.I. may also come from British companies who now need access to the E.U.’s market (Brexit Negotiations)
Ireland’s influence within the E.U. could be hampered by Brexit, in order to diminish these risks Ireland needs to: “strengthen existing alliances in EU and build new ones, influence future direction of European Union, promote better awareness of its EU role, values and achievements, and maintain strong UK?Ireland and UK?EU relations.” (IGP, Brexit Priorities, p.44) Additional funding for the I.D.A. was invested also to “target key markets with a view to securing investment that will lead to future jobs and opportunities for our Citizens.” (Brexit Negotiations)
Ireland has taken a diplomatic approach to manage the challenge of Brexit to the economy by opening new resident diplomatic missions in Chile, Colombia, Jordan, Vancouver and Mumbai as part of the Government’s overall Budget 2018 package. Chile and Colombia are of particular relevance for Chile’s growing economy, and trade relations between Ireland Ireland’s tripling since 2012. (DFA)
In this essay I have discussed Irish trade and the economy, the impacts on the Northern Ireland Peace Process, the Common Travel Area, and Ireland’s influence within the E.U. The combined economies of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as a potential ‘smart border’ and how it may function.