Queen's Policy Engagement

Remarkable flexibility on Northern Ireland from the EU – the UK government should take note

The unique situation of Northern Ireland within the UK needs to be stressed when it comes to Brexit says Dr Katy Hayward.

Remarkable flexibility on Northern Ireland from the EU – the UK government should take note

The European Commission has announced the guiding principles for its position regarding the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

The main message is that, when all is said and done, the solutions to this knotty problem lie in the hands of the UK government. As Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wryly remarked, “it’s Britain that has decided to leave”, and so it must manage the consequences of this decision.

At the same time, the commission is concerned that the UK government’s approach to the Irish border has so far centred fairly narrowly on preserving its “invisibility”, on the Common Travel Area, on the rights of Irish citizens, and on funding for peace programmes. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier has also called out the UK government for attempting to use the EU’s flexibility for the Irish border as a test case for the future UK-EU trading relationship.

In its own guidelines, the EU is attempting to move the discussion forward by outlining a framework for solutions that are unique to Northern Ireland.

Continue reading. 


Article originally appeared on The Conversation. 

The featured image of the European Commission representative Michel Barnier visiting an Irish border crossing has been used courtesy of a Creative Commons license. 


Dr Katy Hayward
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Dr Katy Hayward is a Reader in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen's University Belfast. She has particular expertise on cross-border cooperation and management, focusing on the case study of Ireland/Northern Ireland and the impact of EU membership. For more information and links to some of her recent publications, please see her Queen's homepage: https://go.qub.ac.uk/hayward

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