Queen's Policy Engagement

Brexit and the island of Ireland – any news from the EU’s revised offer for a withdrawal agreement?

Following on from her earlier article, Professor Dagmar Schiek reconsiders her earlier position in light of the November Draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Brexit and the island of Ireland – any news from the EU’s revised offer for a withdrawal agreement?

In another historical move, the European Council, composed of EU Member States minus the UK, has approved the EU Commission’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement (DWA) of 14 November with minimal changes, alongside the political declaration of 22 November 2018 on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. I have been hesitating to engage with this interim result: not only because of the difficulty of assessing the 585 pages of legal text with numerous and slightly confusing cross-references and stacked exceptions, but also because this whole exercise may be futile if the UK Parliament does not accept the document. However, having seen how the UK Prime Minister has achieved a majority in the UK Parliament for all her Brexit manoeuvres so far, it is not unlikely that the EU’s offer is accepted. That likelihood is even higher because it is a very generous offer indeed, considering the EU’s principles, such as the indivisibility of the Internal Market and the autonomy and integrity of its legal order.

Bearing in mind the latter, I agreed to update my assessment of the implications of the earlier March draft agreementfor the island of Ireland, which was published in the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly. In the following, I reconsider my earlier position in light of the November DWA. In that article I addressed the following questions. What does this offer mean for Ireland/Northern Ireland? Does it enable the hybridity of Northern Ireland as a territory in the government of which the UK and Ireland both have a stake? And does it allow the people of Northern Ireland to continue existing in a hybrid identity, choosing to be either British or Irish or both and, whatever they choose, to meander between Ireland and the UK? How does the agreement impact on the all-island socio-economic processes which are not only a precondition of prosperity specifically in Northern Ireland, but also underpin services in the public interest such as health care, childcare and education?

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Article originally appeared on the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly. 


Professor Dagmar Schiek
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Dagmar Schiek is Professor of Law at Queen's University Belfast and holds a Jean Monnet ad personam Chair in EU Law and Policy. Professor Schiek directs the Centre of European and Transnational Legal Studies and convenes the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence "Tensions at the Fringes of the European Union" as an interdisciplinary project.

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