Revealed: The UK’s position paper on Northern Ireland and what it means for the Republic
The UK’s position paper on Northern Ireland and the Republic has been revealed touching on everything from the Good Friday Agreement to energy co-operation.
Below are the details of the report:
1. The Good Friday Agreement:
- The UK and EU should formally recognise that the citizenship rights set out in the Good Friday Agreement will continue to be upheld.
- Continue Peace funding to Northern Ireland and the border counties until the current programme, valued at €270m,expires in 2020. Then the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government should explore a potential future programme post 2020.
2. The Common Travel Area:
- The UK proposes that the UK and the EU agree a text that recognises the ongoing status of the Common Travel Area (CTA).
- The development of the UK’s future immigration system will not impact on the ability to enter the UK from within the CTA free from routine border controls.
- Neither the UK nor Ireland is part of the Schengen area, which allows both countries to maintain border checks.
- The UK can provide a clear assurance that the CTA can continue to operate in the current form and can do so without compromising in any way Ireland’s ability to honour its obligations as an EU member state, including in relation to free movement for EEA nationals in Ireland.
- The UK is confident that it can maintain existing movement to the UK from within the CTA without requiring border controls, as now.
- Ireland’s immigration and border arrangements will be unaffected by the preservation of the CTA.
- The UK will set out further details on its immigration plans in the autumn.
3. Avoiding a hard border for goods:
- The UK’s clear priority in devising new border arrangements is to respect the strong desire from all parties and parts of the community in Ireland to avoid a hard border.
- The UK must reach a deal with the EU to ensure that the Irish side of the border post Brexit, which will be subject to EU regulations, will be as seamless and frictionless as possible.
- Potential models for the border should be developed on the basis of nine key principles, including recognising the importance of not having a hard border, respecting the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, recognising the unique nature, geography and history of the border and cross border movements and preventing the creation of new barriers to trade.
- Two approaches to the border include:
- A) Proposals for a new customs partnership with the EU - in which the UK would be free to negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world while maintaining free trade with the EU - would avoid the need for any Border.
- B) Alternatively, "highly streamlined" arrangements would have to be put in place reflecting the "unique circumstances of Northern Ireland". These would ensure no new customs processes for smaller firms, and new trusted trade arrangements for larger firms.
- In 2015, more than 80pc of North to South trade was carried out by micro, small and medium sized firms.
- The movement of goods across the border by these small firms cannot be properly categorised and treated as "economically significant international trade".
- For businesses engaged in larger amounts of trade, the UK would explore with the EU how to ensure that administrative processes could be streamlined. This could include mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operators (AEO), enabling faster clearance of goods at borders.
- The UK also proposes a continued waiver on submitting entry/exit declarations and continued membership of the common transit convention - meaning firms from Northern Ireland and the Republic would be able to move goods through the UK to mainland Europe without being hit with duties.
- No border on the Irish sea.
- Regulatory equivalence on agri-food measures, where the UK and EU agree to achieve the same outcome and standards.
4. Energy Co-operation:
- Facilitate the continuation of a single electricity market covering Northern Ireland and the Republic.
- Facilitate the continuation of efficient electricity and gas interconnection between the island of Ireland and Britain.