Queen's Policy Engagement

Brexit: Where are we now? Northern Ireland

Professor David Phinnemore sets out the state of play in the Brexit negotiations as seen from Northern Ireland.

Brexit: Where are we now? Northern Ireland

Close observers of Brexit have always known that the position of Northern Ireland will be a key issue to be resolved in the UK’s withdrawal negotiations. Since Article 50 was triggered on 29 March 2017, the Irish and UK governments and the EU have placed Northern Ireland high on the agenda by issuing  commitments on avoiding a hard border, upholding the Belfast ‘Good Friday Agreement’, maintaining North-South cooperation and, more recently, supporting the all-island economy. Such commitments have been widely welcomed.

However, as the midpoint of the Article 50 process looms, it has become increasingly difficult to see exactly how these commitments can be realised in practice given UK government red lines on leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market and unionist objections to any differentiated treatment of Northern Ireland in the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and the future UK-EU relationship.

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Article originally appeared on the website of the Institute of International and European Affairs.

The featured image in this article has been used thanks to a Creative Commons licence

Professor David Phinnemore
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David Phinnemore is Professor of European Politics and Jean Monnet Chair in European Political Science in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen's University Belfast. He is also Dean of Education for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Professor Phinnemore's research interests cover EU treaty reform, EU enlargement, EU external relations and alternatives to EU membership, particularly association.

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