Could the Danish model be applied to the UK?

Nationalist leaders have been wandering around trying to find possible ways to keep Northern Ireland within the European Union. There has also been considerable debate about an all island forum to examine possibilities.

If we are going to look at something, Denmark might offer something for the UK and the Irish government to consider.

Ulrik Pram Gad has penned an interesting article for the LSE as to how his own country’s experience might be useful for Northern Ireland and Scotland as he writes;

The Brexit referendum results in England and Wales contrasted sharply with those in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar. Taking these differences into account – and combining them with prospects of Scottish independence, renewed troubles in Northern Ireland, and potentially severe isolation in Gibraltar – the UK could refrain from activating Article 50. Instead, negotiations could aim at a territorial exemption of England and Wales from UK membership.

The UK would still be a member state – voting rights reasonably reduced to match the population of Scotland and Northern Ireland. The question of who would represent this member state, on what mandate, and following what procedures of coordination would have to be solved within the UK. Possibly, the role of Scottish ministers and bureaucrats from Northern Ireland would have to be central.

The ‘reverse Greenland’ arrangement sketched above might solve the issue for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar, but it would, of course, leave another problem on the table: namely the relationship England and Wales would have with the EU and the single market. Inspiration for this relationship would have to be found elsewhere as there is little guidance that can be offered by the Greenland case.

But while the EU might appear to be a rigid legal community, the political processes that generate EU agreements are based chiefly on pragmatism. There is therefore scope to create unique arrangements and the formalities of the process will hardly act as an obstacle in achieving this. Greenland’s experience illustrates that it can be necessary to play games with a state’s formal sovereignty in order to uphold it. Copenhagen seems to have learned that lesson – now the question is whether London will too.

He points out a really interesting policy that has existed for over a decade in Denmark where the local governments of Greenland and the Faroe Islands have the power in devolved issues to enter into bilateral agreements on devolved matters on behalf of the Kingdom of Denmark as their circular note to other governments states;

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of International Law, has the honour to inform that the Danish Folketing in agreement with the Faroese and Greenland Authorities respectively has adopted legislation providing statutory full powers for the Government of the Faroes and the Government of Greenland to conclude certain international agreements on behalf of the Kingdom of Denmark.

The note goes on to note the overall competences of the central government;

The Acts do not limit the foreign policy powers of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Danish Authorities in relation to the Faroes and Greenland. The Minister of Foreign Affairs continues to bear overall responsibility for the Foreign policy of the Realm – including towards the Folketing – and the Danish Foreign Ministry must be consulted prior to the exercise of the full powers provided in the Acts.

Pram Gad notes what really matters is the credibility of the leaders in signing agreements and that this approach has precedence;

if we look beyond Denmark, it is not uncommon for states to mandate lawyers, private citizens, NGO representatives – sometimes foreign nationals – to represent them at meetings in international organisations. This was essentially how the history of diplomatic practice began.

What matters is that all parties acknowledge the credentials of the representative. In 2013, the Danish authorities even agreed to launch an appeal at the WTO Board of Disputes on behalf of the Faroe Islands against the EU over a fisheries dispute – a matter which the Kingdom of Denmark has left to Brussels (Danish fisheries) and Tórshavn (Faroese fisheries). In this truly unprecedented situation, Denmark was preparing to launch a case against itself, though the matters were eventually settled ‘out of court’ before the case was launched.

 

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  • Spike

    Pure blind luck – we are left crossing fingers that something will work. Obviously no plan by the brexiters and little Englanders playing on the xenophobic tendencies of voters and unionists. Let’s hope something works but we are now left hoping Europe takes pity on us rather than the glorious empire doing anything.

  • Zig70

    ‘Nationalist leaders have been wandering around trying to find possible ways to keep Northern Ireland within the European Union’. Lol. That is one way to read the intentions of unambitious nationalists. I reckon Colum is fairly ambitious.

  • Celtlaw

    Parliament has to reach the simple conclusion that there is no consensus among the components of the United Kingdom for exit from the EU; therefore, Article 50 will not be implemented.

  • chrisjones2

    Yeah yeah

  • cu chulainn

    Exactly. Complicated arrangements are not needed, just respect for different parts of the UK.

    If they want to pursue some sort of reverse Greenland then negotiate that first and have another referendum.

  • cu chulainn

    I’m not sure that this Danish example can help. In this case the big bit is in the EU, not unlike the UK and the Isle of Man, for instance. I don’t how it can work with the big bit not the in EU. Also Copenhagen may be capable of representing the Faeroe Islands fairly, there is no way you’d trust London to represent NI fairly.

  • Paddy Reilly

    It’s not just appendages like Gibraltar, Scotland and Northern Ireland that are satisfied with the EU. Greater London is the same: so are Manchester and Liverpool. I just cannot imagine that the wealth creating hubs of England are going to put up with something that is not in their interest in order to satisfy the culchies/woolybacks or whatever you like to call them.

  • Croiteir

    It was not a vote based on the consensus of component parts of the UK, cannot see why that should be invoked now.

  • Croiteir

    Nothing unhealthy about seeking what you believe to be in your best interest

  • Croiteir

    They have no choice.

  • Jollyraj

    I’ve seen zero evidence that Brexit is in the UK’s best interest.

  • Croiteir

    So over 50% of the UK is xenophobic?

  • Jollyraj

    Of course they do. Negotiate and agree the exit deal with the EU pending ratification by a referendum vote on the terms offered. Have the vote – this time with transparency of what it will actually mean and take it from there.

  • Croiteir

    Not going to happen, to negotiate they will need to invoke Article 50, once that occurs it is a one way street.

  • Croiteir

    You can’t? I take it you voted remain then if you voted?

  • Jollyraj

    Yes, I am on the Remain side. I assume you are in favour of taking the UK out of Europe? What, to you, are the advantages of doing so?

  • Teddybear

    I can’t see Article 50 invoked. The referendum result was a Dicree Nisi. Once we r faced with the Decree Absolute, we will baulk

    Remember that we are the UK. we don’t do revolutions. Even the ‘Glorious Revolution’ wasn’t that dramatic on the ground.

    Just like the GFA, ‘brexit’ will be a fudge

  • Spike

    Certainly over 50% fell for (insert lie here)

  • Croiteir

    Yes – I think it was the wrong action for the UK to take. But I cannot see why anyone would level the action as unhealthy, to me the accusation is unhealthy.

  • Croiteir

    So now you move from xenophobia to gullible, stupid, (insert any insult here), instead of the simple answer that they thought it was in their best interest.

  • Croiteir

    No it was not, I am regularly in England and it came down to two main issues, sovereignty and employment when I spoke to people there.

  • Croiteir

    That is simply not true

  • Croiteir

    There was respect for different parts of the UK – the people in every region were able to vote on an equal basis, a UK vote for UK citizens. Time now to move on instead of moping about what should have been.

  • Kev Hughes

    I am constantly questioned on this here on the continent. It’s viewed as collective insanity on the part of the electorate with other questions raised on Scottish independence and what will all the finance guys do now.

    Though it has moved from the shock to the ‘what can we move to the EU’ part of the debate now. Watch this space, may be nothing, though I sincerely doubt that.

  • Glenn

    Looks like all this Greenland stuff is empty rhetoric.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36760953?SThisFB

  • Spike

    I’ll settle for gullible

  • Croiteir

    And you would be wrong

  • Croiteir

    I may not have made it as obvious as I had hoped, I was talking about the conversations with English people, not bonfire builders in Ireland.
    This was not deep seated hatred, I do not know why you insist on putting emotions onto people you don’t even know.
    I was with people of many backgrounds, Asian and Irish, nearly all working class, and virtually all wanted out.
    If people who were not “of the shires” were of this opinion how can that be xenophobic?
    It was a simple desire to establish their sovereignty and employment.
    If the EU really did exercise the principle of subsidiarity then perhaps the English would have voted to remain. But it seemed to the English to be moving to ever closer union instead.

  • Croiteir

    Not that dramatic on the ground, the invading army caused a little problem around Drogheda did they not?

  • Spike

    I hope I am

  • Croiteir

    They weren’t. Some of the media did but others did not. You still refuse to get the point. This was a vote borne out of their personal observations and experiences.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Nationalist leaders have been wandering around trying to find possible ways to keep Northern Ireland within the European Union.”
    Why humour them? They’re being really silly here, it’s a complete wild goose chase. Non-issue. Real issue is working out how we can soften effect of Brexit in cross-border dealings. But please, NI is out with the rest of the UK, end of.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no it doesn’t. Parliament is sovereign; its only obligation here is to recognise the national referendum result. If NI wants something different it will need to secede.

  • Katyusha

    They should have done that to start with. Too late now.

    I suspect the UK has already exhausted any good will the EU had towards them with the first vote. I can’t see them allowing the UK to back-pedal at this stage.

  • Katyusha

    As someone who places themselves firmly within a Northern Irish culture, you don’t seem to have developed our common appetite for fudge. It’s a Northern Irish specialty.

    We are going to be leaving the EU, which means we just have to be clever about precisely what that entails. It’s time to send the good ship Creative Ambiguity on a sortie.

  • Jollyraj

    Yes the relationship is scorched, and certaibly they’re entitled to hold our foot to the fire on the terms, but I still think it’s better for Europe if we are in. So let’s see what happens.

  • lizmcneill

    Move on to what?

  • Jollyraj

    Certainly there is, if it constututes self harm. Like the ‘bleeding cure’ for gout or whatever it was.

  • Jollyraj

    Uhn..with respect, I think it is true.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    fudge is more a political than a legal concept, when push comes to shove. The law tends to have to define things. “Ways to keep Northern Ireland within the European Union” is a ridiculous concept – you can’t, unless it leaves the UK. It’s not leaving the UK anytime soon. End of, on the EU membership front.

    What you CAN play with is having certain UK-ROI bilateral arrangements that soften some aspects of the border e.g. maintaining a common travel area, or whatever. But it is not, repeat not possible to somehow have N Ireland in the EU when the rest of the UK is not. It’s pretty simply in that respect.

  • Katyusha

    Of course. We can’t keep NI in the European Union, on paper. All we have to do is be clever and retain some of the benefits that came with being part of the European Union.

    For example, where do you place any immigration and customs controls? Do you enforce a hard border between NI and the RoI, or do you go for the more pragmatic option of applying immigration control at Irish ports and airports? Are we going to apply tariffs on goods coming into NI from the RoI, and if we do, does the border become a hotbed of illegal smuggling once again?

    We lose our UK representation at a European level, but there is no reason why we can’t lobby Irish EU officials to represent NI interests as well as those in the RoI. For certain activities, especially farming, the Irish channel has been much more effective at providing representation for NI interests than the British contingent.

    And then there is the fact that almost everyone in NI can claim EU citizenship, so we still have freedom of movement and other personal benefits that came with EU membership.

    So we will be out. But not as clearly out as the rest of the UK, in practice. And it’s only the situation in practice that makes a difference to people’s lives. I couldn’t care less what the exact wording on the statute book is.

  • Croiteir

    But there is no proof that it does, not for those who articulated their reasoning for voting brexit to me see it.

  • Croiteir

    The question that bedevils every do called progressive, to what and when do we get there and if we do, do we know.

  • Croiteir

    It is not – sovereignty and employment cannot be characterised as such.

  • Keith

    I really feel that this attitude towards people concerned about migration is exactly why we are in the position we’re in. It’s unfair to dismiss these concerns as racist, xenophobic, stupid, etc. This tendency to ignore or demonise people with genuine concerns has arguably led to a leave outcome in the referendum. Since the leave vote, I have heard the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Poland, all talking about the need to listen to people. Too late for the UK, and will be too late for the EU as a whole unless they actually do start to listen.

  • Spike

    Keith, fully appreciate migration concerns are a massive issue that needs resolved but not to the detriment of the all other priorities. Difficult not to surmise that The UK populace now comes across as a cold house for foreigners of any ilk. The classic line is not all brexiters are racists, but all racists are brexiters. Unhappy bedfellows and I fear this referendum has given air to the far right, no more so than in ulster at the expense of all logical thinking. To blindly follow someone without a plan as to what follows (as has clearly been shown by brexiters) is absolute madness. As said before, we are all now hoping for blind luck to get us through this mess

  • lizmcneill

    You’re saying Brexit is progressive?

  • Keith

    Yes, agreed, people have voted for a leap in the dark. We can’t blame the leave campaign for that. They didn’t need a plan for what happens next. What’s interesting is that people were sufficiently concerned about the negative aspects of staying in the EU that they were happy to vote leave without knowing the consequences. I have spoken to a number of friends and work colleagues who are incredulous that people voted leave. I even have a colleague who claims not one of his many friends voted leave. This is says it all for me: we ignored the huge number of people who felt they had nothing to lose by voting leave. Those people have been there for years (the leave campaign didn’t create them. The problem has been thinking they were the lunatic fringe, but everybody has the same number of votes.

  • Croiteir

    Of course it is – it may not be the progression that one would aspire to however it is progression.

  • eamoncorbett

    If you posses an Irish passport it will clearly show your place of residence on it and it is this that will determine your true status as a citizen .
    Here is a question that no one has yet answered , if a Polish person walks across the border from Swanlinbar or Lifford who is going to stop him , who is going to know he is in the UK and why then can’t he proceed to Britain under the freedom of movement accorded to all UK citizens . If the same Polish person were to arrive at Gatwick he would have to show a passport to enter the UK.
    I guess Arlene didn’t think much about things like that when she campaigned for Brexit.
    NI risks becoming an island within an island if restrictions are imposed at the border , brilliant news for smugglers and dissidents I’m sure they can’t wait for Article 50 Lisbon.

  • Katyusha

    Residency and citizenship are completely different things. Also, you must have a different type of passport to me, because mine doesn’t have my place of residence on it anywhere, never mind “clearly shown”. It only shows place of birth. And Irish citizenship is passed down parent-to-child now, the place where you were born is irrelevant. You can be born in Ireland and still not be entitled to Irish citizenship.

    Here: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/irish_citizenship/irish_citizenship_through_birth_or_descent.html

  • eamoncorbett

    My 2004 passport clearly has place of residence on it but I appreciate more recent passports have dropped this requirement but it is on your application . The EU negotiators won’t be fooled by passports , if Britain implements restrictions on freedom of movement there would surely be reciprocal arrangements from the EU and I can’t see how NI citizens using Irish passports can claim that they are EU citizens going forward if it can be proved that they neither live nor work in the EU.

  • Hugh Davison

    I was in a village in Hampshire the week of the vote. The village voted en-mass to exit, and were happy to make that clear to me. Strange thing: there wasn’t a single immigrant, European or Commonwealth, to be found in that village.

  • Katyusha

    You’re confusing citizenship with residency. It doesn’t matter where you live or work.
    I was born in NI, but I live and work in Germany. I am an Irish citizen, and a British citizen, but I am not and will never be a German citizen, even though I have German tax and social security numbers, etc. Many of the Turkish people who have lived in Germany for generations do not have German (or EU) citizenship; although the law was recently relaxed to allow their children to claim it.

    As an aside, you don’t need an Irish passport to be an Irish citizen, but it is the most commonly available proof. And all of our citizens have equal status as citizens, whether they were born, live or work in Dublin, Belfast, Melbourne, New York or Dubai. There is no “true status as a citizen”, and location doesn’t come into it; it’s passed down parent to child. This isn’t the US, we don’t have jus soli citizenship.

    The only way those North of the border can lose their Irish citizenship is if the law is changed to revoke it. As this would require a constitutional ammendment, it would need to go to a referendum. The EU can’t do anything about this, even if it wanted to. The decision on who to award citizenship to is in the hands of member states, not Brussels.

    And also, it will be impossible to prove where someone lives or works based on their passport. You need proof of address and payslips to do that. I doubt we’ll be taking these to the airport any time soon; the only time you need this info is for your passport application.

  • eamoncorbett

    I wasn’t referring to your situation as you currently work in the EU , my point is about NI citizens using Irish passports in a couple of years time to get around the freedom of movement clause , if there are restrictions imposed , especially those people who despise all things Irish bar the passport.

  • cu chulainn

    The EU are not in the hate all things Irish category in general. There is no threat whatsoever re Irish citizenship, despite comments to this effect. And it is citizenship that determines the right to work, not residence. If someone in Britain digs up an Irish grandfather or an Estonian one and they get the passport then they can work in the EU.

    There are enough things to worry about with imaginary ones!

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    Greenland is not an integral part of the Danish Kingdom…..it is more like the Isle of Man in relation to the UK.

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