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(Customs) union man…  June 26, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Anyone read Simon Coveney’s interview in the Independent last week? It’s well worth a read in terms of laying out the RoI position on the border given his new status as Foreign Affairs Minister. 

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Coveney said the Government will be pushing for a special deal, with “unique status” for the North to ensure the Border remains as close as possible to the current arrangement.

That could see the North retaining a link to the customs union, he said – adding that Michel Barnier, Europe’s chief Brexit negotiator, is on board.

A scenario that would see a customs barrier, even an “e-border” using technology, would be a non-runner, the minister added.

And:

“Ireland’s staying in the customs union. So if we’re going to avoid a hard Border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, there needs to be some relationship with the customs union and common market that allows Northern Ireland to be able to operate the way that it does today,” the minister told this newspaper.

He said that if we think in terms of Northern Ireland being simply in or out of the customs union or single market, then it’s “almost impossible to see a solution”.

And:

“That’s why in the terms of reference for the EU negotiating team, they talk about imaginative and flexible solutions being required, and they will be. We will need to think differently in terms of how Northern Ireland relates to and interacts to the common market.”

Yet… for there’s so much that raises a ‘yet’…

Those solutions need to be devised without threatening the integrity of the UK, or the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, he added. The plan, therefore, entails Northern Ireland leaving the European Union with the rest of the UK.

Mr Coveney said the European negotiating team would have to insist on solutions that “don’t have any precedent”, to maintain the current relationship on the island.

Jasus, I’m not sure I like the sound of that. Or this, at least in terms of the practicalities…

Mr Coveney accepted that if Northern Ireland was able to retain a link to the customs union, and the rest of Britain was outside of it, then there would still be a requirement for a border somewhere. Asked if this meant it would have to be in the Irish Sea, between the island and Britain, Mr Coveney said: “Not necessarily. We need to talk about whether or not the checks that are necessary can be facilitated a different way, whether that’s in airports or ports, and Ireland and the UK working together to facilitate that.

I can understand why many people would have a concern that shifting a border to the Irish Sea, and creating a potential trade barrier between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain, that is something that is very sensitive, and understandably so.

“It’s complicated. Two things need to happen. You need to protect the integrity of the single market. And then if you’re going to do that, how do you square the relationships between Northern Ireland and Britain?”

And he continues that in relation to unionism he ‘takes heart’ from comments by Jeffrey Donaldson about a ‘seamless border’. Well, as was noted by bjg on this site and An Sionnach Fionn on ASF last week any undue optimism on that regard (including my own) is probably misplaced.

The Indo flags this as Coveney’s ‘plans’ for an invisible border. I would have thought it more accurately his ‘hopes’ for same.

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1. dublinstreams - June 26, 2017

Don’t worry its not customs checks at border posts, its checks at trade facilitation post not on the border but in general proximity to the Border https://www.kildarestreet.com/committees/?id=2017-05-16a.258#g328

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WorldbyStorm - June 26, 2017

+1 and supervised by trade facilitation representatives with nice uniforms and hats and powers to stop and search and confiscate.

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