An immigration breakthrough on Brexit points to a solution to the hard border problem

If it transpires, the Observer’s story on the EU granting the UK an exemption on free movement for EU citizens could be a breakthrough. How could an immigration cap  solve the problem of a hard border? On the face of it, it would make it worse. But if Ireland would join the exemption and agree an immigration cap with the UK based on estimates of the need for EU and non- EU workers, the issue of a hard border disappears. It could be administered jointly through the common travel area as illegal immigration is today and obviate  any need for permanent border checks. Might this, combined with EEA terms of trade see us through to a generally acceptable Brexit settlement?

Extract

Plans to allow the United Kingdom an exemption from EU rules on freedom of movement for up to seven years while retaining access to the single market are being considered in European capitals as part of a potential deal on Brexit.

If such an agreement were struck, and a strict time limit imposed, diplomats believe it could go a long way towards addressing concerns of the British people over immigration from EU states, while allowing the UK full trade access to the European market.

The negotiations wouldn’t be a doddle. They would involve a breach in one of the four freedoms by Ireland, a full EU member, unless Ireland  too moved to associate status which has so far not been contemplated . And there are plenty of Brexiteers  who don’t regard  even EEA  status so amended as  true Brexit at all. Still,  such “special arrangements” may be  promoted  to satisfy the unique position of  the island of Ireland. Whether EU 26  would accept them  is something else.

P.S Talking of free movement...

, , , , , ,

  • chrisjones2

    There was a referendum. It was hugely rejected.

  • chrisjones2

    It’s a matter for the EU …we would prefer a deal

  • chrisjones2

    Read the Foreign Affairs paper.

  • chrisjones2

    No. I mean the career criminals and violent individuals

  • chrisjones2

    Who suggested that. You are now making this up

  • chrisjones2

    Kevin. I am going to stop this as I genuinely think you are utterly obsessed and need to stand back a little. Please take this as its meant and give it a break for a while

  • Kevin Breslin

    The arguement that the UK spends the money so it can do what it wants pretty much is as stupid as saying that. It shows major illiteracy of how commerce between trading partners work.

    If a person who pays a service has absolute say in that service profession, then technically a person could rape, torture and kill a prostitute because they believe they paid for the body.

  • John Collins

    Do you mean NI east or west or ROI east and west since independence?

  • John Collins

    Chris
    Pros and Cons. If super states are such a panacea why has the USSR, the British, Roman, Holy Roman. French, Portugese, Dutch, Ottoman and Spanish Empires, among others, all broken up. We can also throw in the League of Nations as we are at it and the EU now seems to be in trouble. As far as I can see the USA is the only rock solid democratic empire that looks to be durable and maybe that is because each state has, at least to some extent, its own legal system.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Gopher, I’d imagine that Commonwealth rabbit will be kept in the hat until it emerges in a package of constitutional changes sometime in the future.

  • Skibo

    Is such a plan not just kicking the ball down the road. The seven years max proviso.
    Would the plan not have to be accepted by all 27? Can you see Poland or Romania accepting it?

  • Skibo

    It could be used in Reunification agreement to allow the flying of the Union flag on designated days possibly.

  • Skibo

    If there is a hardened border to build, the UK will be paying as they will be the ones trying to control access or are you a Trumpeter who thinks you can build whatever you want and then bill the other side for it?

  • Skibo

    Main issue is that the UK does not want tariffs but wants controlled access. Problem is one free tariffs will not come without free movement and an element of payment.
    How do you expect the UK to control movement of Immigrants on the border without security checks?
    If there are tariffs imposed by the EU then they will be on both sides of the border.
    It would be in UK interest to pull back to the border of the Irish Sea and put all controls on movement there. Much simpler to control.

  • john millar

    “So how is a party going to be electorally annihilated when the electorate is so evenly divided and no single party has ever needed even 50% of votes cast to form a government in the UK since 1945?”

    That`s democracy– if the public don`t care enough to vote you can`t blame politicians.
    I am not sure about a “re-run” for the referendum . I would worry that a backlash more in favour of Brexit would arise.

  • lizmcneill

    1. Why would Ireland agree to that?
    2. What happens when the 7 years or 10 years are up?

  • Roger

    Agreed. If we are going to talk in compass points but avoid gibberish I suppose it really ought to be “Ireland, North, South, East and West and Northern Ireland, North, South, East and West.”
    Or we could drop the silly compass talk and just refer to the jurisdictions.

  • lizmcneill

    Nobody wants a hard border except the Brexiteers who keep banging on about too many immigrants. Why is that a matter for Ireland?

  • Reader

    Roger,
    * No visas, there is no need, because:
    * For EU citizens, travel won’t be a big deal – the big deal is access to work and services (schools and the NHS) – i.e. get a NI number, if you can, and keep it handy.
    For Non-EU citizens, the CTA is still outside Schengen, and the external borders will be policed as before.
    * The purpose of a customs union is to prevent the imposition of tariffs. That would make practical sense for the EU and the UK anyway. If sense doesn’t prevail, then the practical option for the UK is to ignore the NI market and apply customs to containers at the ports instead. Much, much cheaper than trying to put customs posts along the border. Maybe the EU will be profligate enough to put customs posts on the EU side of the border.

  • Reader

    Skibo, I nearly agreed with your final paragraph – in respect of goods anyway – though not in the way you want. See my reply to Roger.

  • Reader

    1a) Border for non-EU people is the CTA border – e.g. Rosslare.
    1b) No border for EU people. I doubt they will be much tempted by the UK black-economy anyway.
    2) Border for goods at Larne and Belfast. The likelihood of EU companies transhipping vast quantities through Dundalk-Newry to try to avoid tariffs is minimal.
    Latest update on soft border in the Guardian:
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/25/theresa-may-rule-out-return-border-checks-between-uk-ireland

  • Kevin Breslin

    1.a is reasonable, and should effectively be out of the UK’s hands.

    1.b is perhaps reasonable … pretty much I would agree sanctions on particular EU workers could in theory be introduced, or even devolved.

    2 is still negotiable.

    My point is that those calling for a hard border tend to be on the British side (I would include David McNarry as a Brittish, even though he is Irish by personal self-determination and of right as well) not the Continental side.

  • Skibo

    You could add the UK as a union of nations as still being sound. oops maybe not!

  • Skibo

    I don’t see why anyone is jumping up and down about this. This is the Norway agreement. Norway would have the same right to reduce immigration but decide not to.
    The UK will have to guarantee the position of the EU citizens in the UK and pay a substantial amount to the EU. The UK would gain access to the EU market but lose her seat on the negotiations relating to the regulations of that market. Is it really a win win situation?
    After seven years full access would kick in again and just how would the UK be better off?

  • john millar

    We may need to re run the GFA to see if it will support brexit

  • Croiteir

    Kevin, you seem to be thinking only of jobs that need cerebral dexterity. If you get into the market place for picking strawberries, hodding brick, work on the assembly line and such, basic labour a weak mind is not a drawback.

  • Croiteir

    Only people who do not respect a majority are the swivel eyed

  • anon

    The UK’s contribution to the EU, net of the rebate, is about £13bn, 72% of the full member rate. The EEA rate is 83%, which would be almost £15bn. Are we going to be paying £2bn extra for this ‘soft’ option which inevitably means having to adhere to all the EU regulations to access the single market, without any say in them?

  • Thought Criminal

    Contrary to Theresa May’s statement that “nobody” wants checks, many of us don’t give a toss, if not would prefer a more secure border. Bring on the WTO model!

  • Croiteir

    Why not move towards a shared sovereignty solution, then the north would be in both states.

  • Trasna

    Good goverange from Protestants. LOL

    Dynamic influence? Jesus wept.

    Have you no knowledge of Irish history at all, even a smidgen?

    When has Ireland ever know good governance under Protestant rule?

    When did NI know good governance under Protestant rule?

  • eamoncorbett

    Whilst your assessment looks the more probable of all the scenarios presented here I can’t see how 300 hundred crossings can be monitored especially as some farmers actually own land that traverses the border . Collecting tariffs would be an impossible task even for mobile patrols. The EU as a collective will have a huge input into this debate , it’s not simply between Enda and Teresa as some people believe . Anyway it’s more likely the Norwegian solution will be implemented for the first 8 or 9 years to give UK a chance to re – consider , after that the gloves are off.

  • Tarlas

    Schrödinger’s Ireland eh ! Republican prisoners in H blocks were asked to look at the positive things that stemmed from Englands occupation in Ireland. Town planning, architecture, universities etc etc. England was once part of the Roman Empire. Empires rise and fall. We are witnessing the
    terminal decline of the British Empire. So is your opinion in or out of the box, or both at the same time ?

  • Trasna

    Where does this silly notion come from that the English built Ireland? Schools, towns, language, culture and customs existed long before the Norman and we’re set back hundreds of years by the Plantations.Most of Ireland was built when under Gaelic rule.

    Who do you think build The Rock of Cashel or Christchurch Cathedral, which itself is built upon an older school.

    You are also assuming that Ireland would have stopped developing without English rule. This is clearly nonsense as all people progress and learn from each other and other nations.

    The fact is that the Plantations set Ireland and the Irish back hundreds of years. And NI Protestantism has set NI back decades.

    I don’t know what you mean by the last sentence.

  • john millar

    I don`t think antagonising Brit holiday makers helps the EU

  • John Collins

    I agree strongly it is time to be prudent. It reminds one of the yarn of the fellow, whom the priest asked, on his death bed, ‘to renounce the devil’ had replied , with some tact, ‘is this the time to be making enemies’

  • Tarlas

    “all people progress and learn from each other and other
    nations.”

    Do They? . We will fight kill and die for our differing cultural ideologies, most of our ideals do not in the end improve our quality of life. I hope we can move on, and build a society
    based on the positives,we can find amidst our differences , we are all very aware of the alternative.

  • Reader

    “…not the continental side”
    On day 1 of the negotiations, the UK will say, “let’s have Free Trade”, and the EU will say “Not so fast there…”
    David McNarry won’t be present.

  • Kevin Breslin

    British Free Trade deals are as fantasist as the Vote Leave 350 billion windfall in my opinion.

    I’ll believe the Brits will have free trade across the border only when I see it.

    The Leave side have maxed out their trust credit card and then some so we can only doubt them or live in eternal gullibility.

    Quite frankly my assertions to be vigilante about the British government have had more vindication than absolutely any single Brexit policy.

    The only little crumb of trust I will show in good faith is that May has never said she’ll parrot the Vote Leave agenda, of promise everything, deliver nothing in exchange for political power.

    So we’ve got no commitment form the top of British politics either.

    How many sucker punches of bad promises and post truth politics from Westminster do Northern Ireland have to put up with?

    What nation in the world would trust the UK with a free trade deal, when large sections of the political establishment cannot even show basic integrity with their own public?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Lol WTO rules are not about border security. It’s about hitting Northern Ireland’s exports to the EU including ROI with the highest tariffs avaliable.

    Pretty much given that Northern Ireland largely is an export market in agrifood and manufacturing, this is a war on Northern Ireland’s means of production.

    And there wouldn’t be the instanteous free trade deals that many leavers have argued there would be either.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You do need a degree of cerebral dexterity, whether you are a man, a monkey or a mouse. Motor skills, time management, spatial awareness even attitude to the job.

    If any job was too dumb to do it’d be replaced entirely with automation already.

    As they say in the Computer industry, Artificial Intelligence is no match for Human Stupidity.

  • Kevin Breslin

    That’s not the issue, the problem is that both parts of Ireland have to deal with England’s paranoia as well.

    That requires demands for overboard spending on the issue. Effectively along the lines of McNarry’s get the army out.

    I don’t think it’s worth turning any part of Ireland again into a Police State simply to appease English nationalists.

  • Reader

    Kevin; at this point not much seems to count as evidence for you. So, probably best just to wait and see…
    On a technical point though:
    Kevin Breslin: What nation in the world would trust the UK with a free trade deal, when large sections of the political establishment cannot even show basic integrity with their own public?
    Free trade is easy to implement and easy to police. Just don’t collect tariffs. If you start to collect tariffs your trading partners will know instantly, and can retaliate if they want. No trust required. No paperwork required. Hunter-gatherers can implement free trade…
    It’s more of a problem with protectionist regimes with large internal subsidies. Like, e.g. the EU.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Free trade is politically hard to sell. Nations do assert their power over domestic trade, particularly trade which has been subsidized by said nation such as agriculture and manufacturing.

    Because the UK is unwilling to swallow the high dose Darwinist libertarian economics pill, no other nation will take the same poison.

    In terms of trusting the infallibility of Tory Economics … I can present you with Black Monday.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You know if my memory serves me he just stated a preference for Commonwealth citizens over Eastern Europeans.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Schrödinger did live in Ireland you know.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Not on PR. We know the silly argument that AV was sold on … “Vote AV get Clegg” nonsense as if the voting system rather than the voters decided the winners.

    The fact is we saw this was rubbish because 1) Clegg was re-elected anyway and 2) The SNP who were pro-AV group were among the biggest gainers under FPTP.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well I don’t understand why you think any EU nation is toothless. Whether they take a hawk or a dove approach to the UK doesn’t mean they won’t “bare teeth” when provoked.

  • Skibo

    I agree on the Norwegian solution. Not sure it will please all the Brexit voters but as they are such a wide church, that was it always going to be a bridge too far.
    Britain will probably end up paying what she did before less the rebate, we will end up with free trade and “limited” access.
    I note “limited” as I think there will be an ability to place restrictions on immigration but whether they are ever actioned is a major question mark.
    Is the present PM not the Home Office Minister who couldn’t control immigration before?
    Had she tried to control immigration from countries outside the EU we would have been in a totally different situation.
    On your point on Enda and Theresa agreeing that nobody wants a hard border, well that is not the same as saying there won’t be a hard border and although all the reporters are repeating “there won’t be a hard border”, no politician in a position of influence is actually stating, for definite, that there will not be one.
    Everything is up for grabs and nothing is confirmed. The business community must be crapping themselves.

  • Skibo

    Reader I had difficulty understanding what you actually meant in your reply to Rodger but I will say this, the movement of goods is fairly simple to control tariff wise. Goods in and goods out have to be declared and just as VAT is resolved, so too will tariffs. whether it makes us anymore competitive is questionable.
    The major one is the movement of labour. It will be difficult to control access to EU/ non Irish citizens at the border between north and south. The black market in labour will be rife in the North and you will probably see the creation of an underground system to ghost those who want into the UK proper across the Irish Sea.
    Westminster may surrender the ability to control this over our land border and retreat back to the easier held coast border.
    Westminster may even decide to devolve more powers to Stormont, let us run with more independence and slowly wean us off handouts.
    Could there be case of NI being used as a reduced duty access point to the UK market? Could this be a money spinner? Things are going to change drastically. It will be case of us making the best of a bad job.

  • Skibo

    Free trade may be easy to sell to exporters wanting to trade at the best possible rate. Problem is free trade is a two way street. The goods entering the UK economy may drown what ever element of manufacturing we have left along with agriculture who would have problems matching the prices of countries that have low level production and labour costs.
    The EU may be a protectionist regime but not only does it protect prices, it protects the profitability of home producing businesses and our way of life.
    Can we compete with Eastern Asia and South America and continue to enforce the minimum wage?

  • Tarlas

    To be honest, I didn’t. I mistakenly thought Trasna was a troll and was using a past post about Schrödinger’s Ireland by Trasna as a rebuff. Thanks

  • Roger

    They’ve been provoked. Brexit.
    If they still take a dovish approach and allow UK to impose migration restrictions but allow UK single market access, I hardly think that’s ‘bareing teeth’ as you put it.

    I’d call that a toothless response. But maybe this dental framework isn’t the best.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The migration/free movement issue is just the tip of the iceberg, I feel… and it’s very careful that people highlight the difference between the two.

    It’s been a constant obsession of the British Leave contingent to muddle the two, but anyway there are a lot more important trade issues that could put either part in front of a trade arbitration process be that the Single Market court or the WTO if they are not too careful.

    The UK has been brought to rights on three to four occasions by the WTO. It’s also clear that the UK Minister for Exiting the EU is far more reliant on speaking his opinions than to speak in terms of correct fact or legal advice because one month into the job, he’s been found out.

  • Reader

    Skibo: …it protects the profitability of home producing businesses and our way of life.
    Yes, though to be clear, we’re protecting the profitability of German industry and French farming, at the cost of more expensive imports – including raw materials – for ourselves.
    Meanwhile, our exports are suffering retaliation.
    It’s not at all clear that EU protectionism is in the UK’s short term interest.

  • Reader

    Black Monday – outstandingly bad example. Black Monday was an example of protectionism defying the markets in pursuit of an EU agenda. The pain stopped when the defiance stopped.

  • Reader

    Then I’m fairly sure you can downvote your own upvote on hgreen’s accusation, if you wish.

  • Skibo

    If that was the case then why did the majority of businesses back the remain campaign?
    Do you want to open the British market to cheap imports and destroy whatever element of manufacturing is left in the UK?