EMNI welcomes Lords Report recognising ‘unique issues’ for NI in Brexit negotiations

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The European Movement in Northern Ireland has welcomed a House of Lords Report which has found that the specific circumstances in Northern Ireland give ‘rise to unique issues’ that will need to be addressed during the Brexit negotiations.

The European Union Committee Report on ‘Brexit: devolution’ in relation to Northern Ireland has called on the UK Government to work with the EU negotiators to ‘identify and outline such solutions’ as a matter of priority.

The report found:

“Northern Ireland’s distinctive geographical, historical, political, and (in the context of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement) constitutional circumstances mean that it will be profoundly affected by Brexit. There will be a significant impact, including on cross-border trade, the agri-food sector, energy, transport, fisheries, access to EU labour, healthcare provision, tourism, and police and security cooperation.”

The EMNI has been campaigning for flexible solutions to Northern Ireland’s problems caused by Brexit to be found during the negotiations.

Deputy Chair of EMNI Ciarán Hanna said:

“I am constantly frustrated that any flexible solutions involving Northern Ireland seem to be dismissed by some politicians in Northern Ireland, because of an inflexible rule that all nations in the UK have to leave the EU in the same terms. Northern Ireland is on a separate island to Great Britain and I feel that Northern Ireland could be a member of the EEA and the Customs Union, even if the rest of the UK are not. However, this has been rejected, and I’m not sure what other possible solutions there can be that mitigates the worst excesses of a Hard Brexit.”

Mr Hanna also highlighted a new report ‘A Food Brexit: time to get real’ by Tim Lang, Erik Millstone & Terry Marsden which found:

“Food criss-crosses the Irish/Northern Ireland border many times in the creation of numerous processed food products. This is surfacing as a major concern in the negotiations, but it is ironical that it has been most strongly voiced by the EU27 rather that the British Government…The prospect of food rotting in transit waiting at borders is not impossible.

“The Irish Government has calculated that a closed border, or one with a jurisdiction not in the Single Market or Customs Union would be very harmful to both sides. It is acutely aware of the harmful impact closed borders could have not just for trade but also for the Irish peace process.”

Mr Hanna said that report has found that Brexit could, all too easily, diminish food security in the UK.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Brexit is sheer folly. We seem to be undertaking this huge change for every nation in the UK because Brexiteers believe this a jolly jape to re-create Camelot. Well, Camelot never existed, and it is likely that as we investigate every aspect of a potential Brexit, the UK will be worse off. The case has simply not be made to leave the EU, based on sheer weight of research and evidence. A Camelot may have been enticing for some, but the case to leave was largely based on pie-in the sky whims and notions. On the whole, we are better off in the EU. Surely we need a vote on the negotiations so the people of the UK can assess for themselves whether they want to risk this folly?”

NOTES

  1. European Union Committee Brexit: devolution 4th Report of Session 2017-19 – published 19 July 2017 –https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201719/ldselect/ldeucom/9/902.htm
  2. ‘A Food Brexit: time to get real’ –https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=foodbrexitreport-langmillstonemarsden-july2017pdf.pdf&site=25
  3. European Commission Brexit Negotiation Taskforce –
    https://ec.europa.eu/commission/brexit-negotiations_en#latest

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