Irish problem with border is an EU one






Over at the Policy Exchange, Ray Bassett has some interesting points on the recent hissy fit from Varadkar and Coveney on the Irish land border with the UK.

Looking at the three priority areas in this first stage of Brexit negotiations, on the third (the Irish Border) Bassett makes the point:

There is simply no way a satisfactory solution, which would obviate the need for a border, is anywhere to be found. It is now accepted in Ireland, as I have argued previously, that there is simply no such thing as a “soft international customs border”. This has led to new Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to announce that Ireland would not cooperate with the UK in establishing a new customs border. However, given that it is the EU which is insisting on a customs barrier, the statement may have been indirectly aimed at Brussels.  The EU have insisted that anything relating to the Irish border must “maintain the integrity of the Union’s Legal order”, namely stick to the present regime. Barnier went on to state that there is no such thing as a frictionless border with the EU.

The consequence being that:

This may lead instead to friction between Brussels and Dublin.

How will this all end? Again Bassett makes the point that it isn’t really in the hands of any individual State of the EU27 any longer:

The difficulty for individual EU member states is that they all agreed very general guidelines for the EU negotiators and left it up to the Barnier team to work out the detail.

All except for one:

Once the negotiations become serious the decision making on the EU side will move from Brussels to Berlin. The German Chancellor at that stage, who presumably will continue to be Angela Merkel, will be the real decision maker on the EU side.  She will have to decide whether it is more important to secure agreement to preserve trade links with the UK or to follow the instinct of Brussels that the most important objective of the exercise is to teach any departing escapee from the EU a painful lesson.

The whole article is worth a read.