Will there soon be border guards in Ireland again?
Brexit is endangering the future of the open border between EU member Ireland and the British part of the island, Northern Ireland. London now wants to make the issue part of the negotiations on a customs union, in a bid to prevent the reintroduction of stringent passport and goods controls post-Brexit. Commentators see the plan as unrealistic.
British proposal completely unacceptable
Only if the Republic of Ireland also leaves the customs union will it be possible to dispense with controls on the border with Northern Ireland, the Irish Times comments:
“With no Irish border controls, US beef, Australian lamb, Chinese steel and Indian cars can be imported into Belfast, sent an hour down the road to Dundalk and exported tariff-free to France, Germany or any other EU country. The only way to stop this happening would be in effect to make Ireland itself a semi-detached member of the EU with all Irish exports subjected to customs controls at EU ports. And this is simply not going to happen - why on earth would any Irish government ever agree to it?”
No alternative to controls
The idea of keeping the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland invisible post-Brexit is utterly unrealistic, argues The Independent:
“The reason why the Irish border issue hasn't been sorted out more than a year after the Brexit referendum is that it cannot logically be the same as it is now – frictionless and seamless. When the UK leaves the EU customs union, with or without transition arrangements, some mechanism will be necessary to certify origins, to ensure that goods imported into the UK cannot travel into the European Union, i.e. Ireland, without some notification of their origin and whether they conform to EU rules and have paid EU duties, and vice versa.”
Inflexible EU wants to enforce hard border
It is not London which is digging in its heels, and will be ultimately responsible for closing the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, writes The Daily Telegraph:
“The Irish question may be tricky, but it isn't impossible for negotiators to resolve. Michel Barnier sounded optimistic when he visited the Republic in May, declaring: 'There is always an answer, there is always a road when there is a will.' The British are showing goodwill and putting forward ideas to avoid a hard border, but risk being left hanging by their inflexible European counterparts. Britain doesn't want Ireland to pay the price over Brexit, although Brussels seems happy to do so in order to protect its overarching agenda.”