Monday 26 August 2019

North-South Council 'should manage Border after Brexit'

The NSMC was set up under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to promote cross-Border co-operation. Stock image
The NSMC was set up under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to promote cross-Border co-operation. Stock image
John Downing

John Downing

The current North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) should have its powers increased to manage all Border issues - including trade - in the wake of Brexit.

This is the key recommendation by experts in a new report to the European Parliament.

The NSMC was set up under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to promote cross-Border co-operation in six areas - but has very limited powers.

The NSMC has six implementation bodies that ensure a common approach in various areas of co-operation. But observers say the structure has not been used to its full potential, having a broad mandate but not the powers to develop real North-South co-operation.

Dublin Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes has welcomed the move by the European Parliament's constitutional affairs committee. He said it was logical that the NSMC should be beefed up and put to work on a vital issue for all the island of Ireland.

"The Irish Border remains a sticking point in the Brexit negotiations. Real and tangible solutions need to be found to ensure that we get firm commitments on protecting the Good Friday Agreement and making sure there is no hard Border," Mr Hayes said.

"Giving the NSMC more power is entirely sensible. Mutual co-operation already exists in areas such as energy, health and education. But there has never been a need to have strict regulatory oversight of all-island co-operation."

Irish Independent

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