It is arguably in Ireland that the consequences of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union are thrown into sharpest relief. Brexit raises a series of very complex and interconnected questions affecting, not only the relationship between Ireland and Britain, but relations between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as very delicate social, political and emotional balances within Northern Ireland. This unique set of challenges has been embraced by the 27 EU Member States as one of a few priorities requiring “sufficient progress” towards a resolution during the first phase of the Article 50 negotiations, before talks are allowed to move on to the future trading relationship between the UK and the block.
This Policy Paper, written by Aziliz Gouez, former chief speechwriter for the President of Ireland, presents the three main concerns structuring the EU common position as regards Ireland : (1) the maintenance of the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland, (2) the protection of the peace process and its legislative and political bedrock, the Good Friday Agreement, and (3) the imperative of avoiding a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Aziliz Gouez looks at each of these three issues in turn, in an attempt to clarify the terms of the debate, provide the necessary elements of historical context, and identify areas where agreement is within reach, as well as those in which serious difficulties have arisen.