For weeks this issue is in the media and it is/has been a big hurdle for the Brexit negotiations. No matter what some might WANT, Northern Ireland is part of the UK and the fact that it once was part of Ireland or the fact that it is located on the island of Ireland does not change that. Valid treaties are in place and unless they change Northern Ireland will remain to be a part of the UK. And if the whole UK leaves the EU, then this will also mean that Northern Ireland will leave the UK.
I am well aware that the population of Northern Ireland is divided on their allegiances and many would prefer a closer relationship or even a “re-unification” with Ireland, I am also aware that nobody would want to get back to the situation before the “Good Friday Agreement” from 1998, when terrorist organisations on both sides and highly questionable official forces made life hell for everybody.
But being from a border area elsewhere, I also am well aware that a border or even border controls is not the biggest problem in the world. Sure, we would all prefer a borderless world, but we have on one hand no problem causing a huge amount of in-humane problems to non-EU citizens who want to visit us in the EU, but on the other hand, many think that a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland would be the worst possible scenario.
I don’t agree that borders are a problem. When I grew up we regularly went to France, which was only 20 minutes away and it was never a big problem. Two countries, two set of laws and rules and a border made some sense. The EU states worked hard to break down the borders, but if one state decides to leave, I can’t see how it will work not to have borders again.
Nevertheless, it was announced on Friday that after long negotiations it was agreed that there will be NO hard borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland. So no border controls! But nobody seems to know yet how that will work in reality.
UK government said that they will ensure that there are no barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. So, there won’t be a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and there won’t be a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. BUT there might be completely different tax rules. Do you see the problem?
Have a look at the agreed document here. It says nothing and leaves a lot to Phase 2 negotiations and at the same time the agreement says a lot. Clause 49, for example, more or less implies that Northern Ireland might stay in the EU Customs Union and in the Single Market. And Clause 50 promises that there won’t be any barriers between Northern Ireland and the UK, but this is then probably only possible if the UK also stays in the EU Customs Union and the Single Market. :-O
Either that agreement is not worth the paper it is printed on OR the UK just has abandoned Brexit in large parts. Odd!!