Category Archives: Brexit & The Future of Ireland Report

iNews – “EU citizens will be able to move freely across Irish border after Brexit”

By Nigel Morris, iNews:

European Union nationals will still be able to cross the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic without facing passport checks under the UK government’s Brexit plans.

Its determination not to introduce border posts leaves ministers open to charges of creating a backdoor route into the UK for illegal immigrants and smugglers.

A government position paper said it wanted to preserve the Common Travel Area between Northern Ireland and the Republic, allowing unimpeded movement across the island.

And ministers made clear that their top priority in talks over the future status of the Province would be to avoid a return to the hard borders of the past.

Post-Brexit visa rules

The government indicated that it was “confident” it could enforce planned post-Brexit immigration controls through new visa and benefit rules.

Officials also pointed out that EU nationals’ passports are checked upon arrival in the Republic because it is outside the EU’s free movement area.

The UK paper proposed a future customs arrangement which would mean the vast majority of businesses – including farmers and small firms – trading across the border remaining exempt from tariffs and food safety checks.

The policy would rely on British customs and food safety standards being closely aligned with the EU’s.

Larger companies would make customs declarations either online or at their premises.

Seamless border pledge

Theresa May, on her first day back from her summer holiday, restated her commitment to a seamless Irish border.

“There should be no physical border infrastructure of any kind on either side of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland,” she said.

“I want people to be absolutely clear: the UK does not want to see border posts for any purpose.”

The Prime Minister also confirmed that people from Northern Ireland who hold an Irish citizenship would still benefit from EU citizenship rights after Brexit.

She said rights enshrined in the Good Friday peace agreement, including the right to claim Irish citizenship, would be maintained after the UK’s departure from the EU.

DUP welcome

Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist Party leader and former Stormont first minister, said: “It is clear the Government has listened to voices in Belfast, Dublin, Brussels and London about how the United Kingdom’s only EU land border could be managed after we exit the EU.”

The Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said he welcomed the commitment to avoid any physical border.

But he warned moving away from the status quo on the island of Ireland would be difficult and “imaginative and flexible solutions will be required”.

Senator Mark Daly, deputy group leader of the oppositon Fianna Fail, also welcomed efforts to avoid a hard border but warned the move could risk creating a “smuggler’s charter”.

He said “There are trade differentials between the UK and other non-European powers, offering a back door to Europe so people would import goods that are cheaper under tariff arrangements with the UK and then bring them into the Republic and on into the EU.”



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EURACTIV with Reuters – “Is the Norway-Sweden border a model for UK-Ireland?”

Sharing a border of 1,600 km,with close to 80 crossings, Norway and Sweden face some of the challenges that Ireland and Northern Ireland may experience when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

By Georgi Gotev, EURACTIV with Reuters:

On Wednesday(16 August),the British government published a paper arguing there should be no border posts or immigration checks between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland after Brexit. It is also keen to keep disruption to trade to a bare minimum.

The UK government on Tuesday (15 August) outlined its vision for a “frictionless” customs system, which one EU politician described as ‘fantasy’.

Senator Mark Daly, deputy leader of Ireland’s opposition Fianna Fáil party, said the proposals for a frictionless border appeared “more like fiction, and clueless on this island”.

“It will be a smugglers’ charter,” he told BBC Radio Four.

Northern Ireland exported nearly €3 billion worth of goods to Ireland in 2015, according to official figures, and many businesses have complex supply chains that involve crossing the border multiple times during the production process.

These are however familiar issues for EU member Sweden and non-EU Norway.

Norwegians and Swedes have enjoyed open-border travel since before the EU came into existence – as have the British and Irish, who hope to maintain that uninterrupted free movement of people after Brexit too.

Thousands of Swedes and Norwegians cross their shared border every day to work, to shop or for leisure.

The Nordic neighbours tightened travel document checks after a large inflow of migrants into Europe in 2015 – but the number of arrivals subsided, and now passport checks are again rare.

But Norway has remained outside the EU’s customs union – and British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has indicated it also wants to leave the customs union after Brexit.

To keep up the flow of goods and enjoy the benefits of low or zero tariffs when companies trade, Norway has committed to harmonise its commercial rules with those of the EU.

However, individuals entering Norway face strict limits on what they can bring in. Tariffs apply for a wide range of items, including alcohol, tobacco, meat and other goods, with only small quotas being exempt from payments.

Checking number plates

Another challenge is that, while one major Swedish-Norwegian crossing is staffed with police and customs officials, the vast majority of roads between the countries have no permanent presence of either.

To prevent smuggling, Norway in 2011 began testing cameras with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), allowing mobile customs units to trace potential offenders at unmanned crossings.

In one key test area, cameras were involved in the more than half the cases where violators were caught, the Norwegian customs authority said in late 2016, and the government has decided that all crossings will now get cameras by 2019.

In Norway, those who break the rules face stiff penalties even for small transgressions. For example, if you smuggle more than 10 litres of wine, on top of your allowed quota of six bottles, you get fined €365 and the alcohol gets confiscated.

Those smuggling larger quantities face a term in prison.

In its latest paper, Britain has said it does not favour electronic surveillance on its border with Ireland, though it has not ruled out some technology-based solutions post-Brexit.

Ireland, which is keen to avoid any hard border with Northern Ireland, welcomed the British paper.

Last week Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called for the EU and Britain to find “unique solutions” to their Brexit logjam, including a bespoke customs union to govern trade between his country and the United Kingdom.



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Irish Independent – “Challenges ahead for those who seek a united Ireland free from any borders”

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The Times of London – “Poll on Irish unity only a decade away, says Oireachtas report”

The Times:

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Stratfor – “Ireland: Committee Makes Recommendations for Reunification”


A parliamentary committee in the Republic of Ireland set out a report outlining steps toward peacefully reuniting with Northern Ireland, BBC reported Aug. 2. The report outlines 17 recommendations on what should be agreed upon in negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union regarding Brexit in order to set the stage for a referendum on reunification. Many in Northern Ireland are concerned about the impact Brexit could have on the Good Friday Agreement, which lifted border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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