The European Movement in Northern Ireland has responded to reports that an internal EU paper has suggested that the avoidance of a hard border on the island of Ireland ‘effectively requires Northern Ireland remaining in the single market and the customs union’.
The working paper, as reported by RTÉ News, says that ‘in order to avoid a hard border it is essential that there be no divergence of rules on either side of the Irish border’, a scenario that would ‘effectively require Northern Ireland to remain in the single market and the customs union’.
RTÉ News has reported that the internal document from the EU’s Brexit Task Force was circulated to the 27 member states on Wednesday 8th November, and presented to British negotiators in Brussels on the following day.
Deputy Chair of EMNI, Ciarán Hanna said this position is something that EMNI have claimed was obvious from the start.
“All we’ve heard from the UK Government since day one after the Referendum were clichés like ‘no return to the hard borders of the past’ and ‘flexible and imaginative solutions are needed’ without actually coming up with these solutions.
It has been clear that we’ve enjoyed the same regulatory framework on both sides of the Irish border because of those rules of the EU internal market and the customs union which are necessary for North South cooperation and the all-island economy.
“There does not appear to be another way to avoid a hard border. I think we’re all beginning to realise there will be nothing better than the current arrangements under the EU.”
EMNI will discuss this issue and other motions at it’s AGM next month.