Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter  Follow us on LinkedIn

07 September 2017

European Commission publishes guiding principles on Ireland and Northern Ireland

Default: Change to:

The paper states that the Good Friday Agreement should continue to be protected and strengthened in all its parts after the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The continuation of the Common Travel Area, which facilitates the interaction of people in Ireland and the UK, should also be recognised.

Key issues include ensuring that: the interlocking political institutions on the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, established by the Good Friday Agreement, continue to operate; cooperation (in particular, North-South cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland) is protected across all the relevant sectors; and that full account be taken of the birth right of the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves as British or Irish, or both. Given Ireland's unique situation in the Brexit negotiations, a unique solution is required.

In the first phase of the Brexit negotiations, the EU wishes to reach a common understanding with the UK on the implications of its withdrawal for the Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area. Once there is sufficient progress on the principles set out in today's paper, discussions may move to the second phase of negotiations, which aim to find flexible and imaginative solutions to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. These solutions must respect the proper functioning of the internal market and the Customs Union, as well the integrity and effectiveness of the EU's legal order. As it was the UK's decision to leave the EU, it is the UK's responsibility to propose solutions in this regard. [...]

Text of the Guiding Principles for the Dialogue on Ireland and Northern Ireland

Statement by Michel Barnier on the publication of the Guiding Principles for the Dialogue on Ireland and Northern Ireland

[...]The UK said that it is ready to ensure that the Common Travel Area can continue to operate while respecting Ireland's obligations as an EU Member State, including in relation to free movement.

On the Good Friday Agreement, the UK, as co-guarantor, will also need to put solutions forward.

In particular:

  • The interlocking political institutions created by the Good Friday Agreement will need to continue operating effectively.
  • We need to avoid the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland while respecting Ireland's place in the Single Market.
  • North-South cooperation will need to be preserved in all policy areas.
  • Irish citizens residing in Northern Ireland must continue to enjoy their rights as EU citizens. It is the birth right of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish, or British, or both.
  • The European Union will honour its financial commitments in favour of programmes supporting the peace process such as PEACE and INTERREG. We expect the UK to do the same as part of its financial settlement.

But, ladies and gentlemen, we are not there yet.

The solution for the border issue will need to be unique. It cannot preconfigure the future relationship between the European Union and the UK. It will require both sides to be flexible and creative.

What I see in the UK's paper on Ireland and Northern Ireland worries me.

The UK wants the EU to suspend the application of its laws, its Customs Union, and its Single Market at what will be a new external border of the EU.

And the UK wants to use Ireland as a kind of test case for the future EU-UK customs relations.

This will not happen.

Creativity and flexibility cannot be at the expense of the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

This would not be fair for Ireland and it would not be fair for the European Union. [...]

Full speech

© European Commission

< Next Previous >
 Hover over the blue highlighted text to view the acronym meaning
Hover over these icons for more information

Add new comment