Message to the EU: Ireland’s economic interests are as important as the peace process

Irish Times Brussels correspondent Patrick Smyth demolishes the option of a border down the Irish Sea – not just because the UK government and the unionists won’t have it – but because it is against the economic interests of the Republic.  This assessment follows the leaking of a report by the Office of the Irish Revenue Commissioners saying that an invisible border on the island is “impossible”.

“It is probably somewhat naive to believe that a new and entirely unique arrangement can be negotiated and applied to the EU/UK land frontier.”

The report suggests local frontier points will have to be agreed with the UK, and says it is “not inconceivable” there will be eight crossing points, including a permanent customs post on the M1 between Dublin and Belfast.

91,000 Irish companies trade with the UK.  After Brexit, their customs declarations will mean an 800% increase in volume.

That will mean special permits, extra investment, more paperwork and potential delays.

Ports and airports will need extra infrastructure, such as temporary storage facilities for customs clearance.

Even the Ploughing Championships will be hit, since heavy equipment brought over from the UK will need to be declared under a Temporary Importation Procedure.

Extra staff will be needed at An Post to manage customs checks on parcels coming in from the UK.

Even smaller regional airports will now need customs infrastructure.

The report says that every day 13,000 commercial vehicles cross the Irish border.

Critically, it says a completely open border is not possible from a customs perspective, and it would be naive to believe a unique arrangement can be found.

There will be further complications for shipping.

When goods are shipped from one EU member state to another they maintain their EU status. They get they status because they have applied for it and it’s restricted to ships that operate solely between EU ports.

“Ships plying their trade between the UK and Ireland will no longer be able to benefit from the arrangements currently in place, leading to additional compliance costs for operators,” the report states. Overall, the potential explosion in customs declarations will mean a huge increase in paperwork for traders and Revenue.

“The actual scale of the increased activity is unknowable,” the report says.

Senior official suggests says it could end up being a multiple of between 10 and 30.

One problem is that imports from the UK tend to be small, mixed consignments, each of which might attract a separate tariff.

“A far greater number of small consignments, each requiring an individual customs transaction, may be involved in our UK imports than would be the case with current third country supply chains,” the report suggests. There are currently 1.1 million import declarations.

Revenue estimates there would be a doubling of this number.

Current control rates are 9.4% which so that would mean an extra 90,000 declared articles requiring documentary controls, and 25,000 needing physical controls. In terms of export controls, the report estimates a 40% increase.

“Export control rates are lower than in the case of imports but an additional 6,000 consignments would require examinations of documents and or the goods themselves.

The Revenue report is a worst case scenario following the logic of a failure to agree on the bespoke comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU which the UK is seeking. Smyth’s analysis concludes that for both parts of Ireland and GB ,a deal  would need to mimic the single market and the customs union . The analysis  carries the significant implication that the challenge  therefore is as great for  the EU as the UK.

The idea of a separate, special deal and status for Northern Ireland, not only on agri-food issues, has had strong support North and South, notably among nationalists, but is anathema to unionists.

They insist on equal treatment with the rest of the UK.

And as Varadkar made clear again in the Dáil, making the case for a separate NI deal is not part of the Government’s strategy for economic as much as political reasons.

“I know the issue of Northern Ireland and Border issues are extremely important,” he told TDs on Wednesday, “but from the point of view of Irish business and agriculture, the trade between Ireland and Great Britain is much greater than the trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

Important as North-South trade is economically – and emotionally – the South’s economy is in reality far more dependent on east-west trade across the Irish Sea, and particularly so in the agri-food sector.

The UK remains by far the biggest importer of Irish agri-food, representing 47 per cent of total Irish agri-food exports or €5.1 billion (in 2015).

Whereas, on the other hand, North-South trade represents just over a seventh of this – in 2015 the Republic exported €690 million in food and beverages to Northern Ireland.

The same dependence on East-West trade is also true of Northern Ireland. The UK remains the most significant market for businesses in Northern Ireland – sales to Great Britain were worth one and a half times the value of all Northern Ireland exports and nearly four times the value of exports to the Republic.

 North-South trade

The North exports three and a half times more agri-foods across the Irish Sea than it sends south across the Border (£2 billion to £625 million in 2015). That said, the nature of the North-South trade does involve far more integrated supply chains – a quarter of milk produced in the North is processed in the South, while 42 per cent of its sheep and lambs are also processed here.

But that broader commercial reality makes it inconceivable that Northern farmers and food businesses, or business generally, would be willing, even at the price of preserving a frictionless North-South border, agree to tariffs and phytosanitary controls – a border – in the Irish Sea.

There is a danger, some Irish officials fear, that the inevitable preoccupation in the talks with Northern Ireland and with safeguarding the peace process may distract attention and sympathies among our fellow member states from the scale of the challenge Ireland faces on the East-West trade front, and not least in the hugely important agri-foods area.



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  • lizmcneill

    But either way the Ireland-GB trade is a problem, because GB is insisting on leaving the customs union.

  • murdockp

    Remember limerick and the Saxon. Something…….?

  • William Kinmont

    post brexit NI agri production will fall off to a level that is sustainible without subsidy. Mr Gove has been promising money for the environment not production.
    It is not only the volume or value of goods moving north south or east west but also the nature of the items that could be significant. Agri food seems to be the big player in this trade. Gb is always going to be a big net importer of food with agri at least being a shrinkingly small part of Gb economy. If EU is happy to continue subsidising and maintaining standards of GB food post brexit and NZ and Australia keen to compete to keep it cheap GB will be free to use land for floodplains and lesure facilities and amenities for its towns and cities .

  • lizmcneill

    Normally when I pay a price I get something in return.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Customs border of the UK is in the glorious South East … the Home of Brexiteers.

    I can assure you if they opt for a hard Customs cliff-edge just for cheaper New Zealand lamb, the UK’s biggest import and export from the EU will be bureaucratic paperwork.

    My guess is that the European Union is going to have to force the UK to reveal their initial customs hand before offering any sort of customs solution.

    The UK needs to define how its own “customs union” is to diverge radically from the European Union during this transition period.

    During the Transition period the European Union is going to transition away from the United Kingdom, and will continue to flirt with the likes of Scotland and Northern Ireland if the relationship becomes hostile.

    Frankly it’s bad diplomacy that has caused the Brexiteers to badly screw up on withdrawal negotiations.

    Attacking Barnier, trying to go behind his back, trying to set the pace of the negotiations.

    The United Kingdom needs to understand it is completely powerless over the European Union:

    Powerless over the Irish.
    Powerless over European rules and trade.
    Powerless over the European Union’s Brexit terms.

    It can have treaties but these are like the EU, good faith bilateral arrangements that puts obligations on both sides.

    The United Kingdom’s main and perhaps only Brexit power is power over itself … and look what they’ve done … they’ve left people who’s main instinct is to blame someone else take charge.

    The problem with Brexit’s power is they realise that great power comes great responsibility, and the Brexiteers are not responsible at all.

    When you have Xenophobic, Anglophobic, Misantropes in charge they want a deal which feels good over anything that makes any sense whatsoever.

  • William Kinmont

    more uk citizens holidaying at home and less visiting benedorm is surely good for uk economy and environment and bad for EU. might help Ryanairs pilot shortage too.

  • William Kinmont

    For its size and fishing fleet relative to its coastline might not Uk be at a net gain here. Also re tourists due to climate many more brits head south rather than vice versa again uk should have a net gain.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nah, massive flaw in your plan, all those British tourists would be heading out through Dublin, Shannon, Knock airports etc., if they can get visas for international travel.

    Good Reason for a United Ireland.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nope, the UK isn’t going to fish itself into prosperity. It doesn’t have the fishing numbers of Iceland.

  • William Kinmont

    i am not sure i understand your point . After brexit will Gb tourists have to get visas and then travel to regional airports in south of ireland before traveling onto europe due to open skys .knocking a couple of days off each end of their holiday and adding return ferry trip expenses . Methinks Spain might press for an open sky deal quite quickly. Otherwise a Blackpool b and b might be a good investment.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry but Gove’s an idiot, and if Dyson can’t make farming sustainable it’s very clear that the UK is going to trigger another land war with the Ulster Farming work pushing for non-subsidised farming.

    I actually think CAP pays for floodplains under its new policies, so even the environmental subsidies have to pay their way.

    The idea that UK will kill its agriculture sector and import New Zealand and Australian on top of the EU imports sounds like a very raw deal for Northern Ireland’s biggest industry but a great excuse for farmers backing a United Ireland.

  • William Kinmont

    Thats the point Gb fleet is miniscule and of no significance to gb economy . Some other Eu countries have fishing fleets which are a more significant part of there economy and some of these rely on access to uk waters and ports . Have a look at the map , if you want to fish international waters in a range of thee north atlantic which island would make the best base?

  • Kevin Breslin

    But that broader commercial reality makes it inconceivable that Northern farmers and food businesses, or business generally, would be willing, even at the price of preserving a frictionless North-South border, agree to tariffs and phytosanitary controls – a border – in the Irish Sea.”

    This kind of oversimplification belongs in a rag like the Daily Express and not a so called paper of quality like the Irish Times.

    Absolutely agree, because the alternative to the suggestion is really hoping the Republic of Ireland bears the commercial costs instead at the border, but the reality is both sides are going to have to bear these costs.

    Let’s be clear… of the commercial costs of each effort:

    Sea border … Commercial costs

    Via Port based Customs Posts:
    Scotland exporting to/importing from the Republic of Ireland
    Wales exporting to/importing from the Republic of Ireland
    England exporting/importing from to the Republic of Ireland
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from Scotland
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from Wales
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from England

    Land and Sea border … Commercial costs

    Via Port based Customs Posts.
    Scotland exporting to/importing from the Republic of Ireland
    Wales exporting to/importing from the Republic of Ireland
    England exporting/importing from to the Republic of Ireland
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from Scotland
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from Wales
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from England
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from Scotland
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from Wales

    Via Land based Customs Posts.
    Republic of Ireland exporting to/importing from Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland exporting/importing from to the Republic of Ireland

    The commercial reality is that a land and sea border around Ireland is not better for Northern Ireland even when it’s clear that UK (GB) to UK(NI) goods only have to be dealt with one set of paper work.

    Collecting Tarriffs for the Republic of Ireland and the Republic collecting Tariffs for Northern Ireland, is common Strand Two practice when it comes to oil duties and Income Tax etc.

    The Unionists need to realise Commercial Idealism isn’t god in the real world, Feasibility is.

  • William Kinmont

    I suppose it depends how you define idiot. Those farmers glad handing and posing with Gove on recent trips here didnt seem to have much of a clue when you read their response to his statements. However the change in emphesis Gove is pushing for in away from agrifood to wards environmental benefits makes every sense for GB, yet spells disaster for NI ironically probably not for its farmers. Our economy would dove tail so much better with that of the south in so many ways yet can north or south finance the pain of transition. Probably yes with EU and GB support.

    As for Dyson and farming . Am not sure that wither a huge corporates ability to make large scale farming sustainible now bears any relivance to wither family farms will be sustainible here post brexit. Markedly reducing stocking density may well be sustainible on family farms which can subsidise their own income by diversifying or working off farm.

  • Gary Da;ze;;

    ROI is parasitic on the EU and the Germans aren’t going to stand for their cosy tax relations with international companies using ROI as access to the EU while avoiding tax liabilities.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Iceland I would guess.

  • William Kinmont

    to some degree then ireland then Uk.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Indeed Black pool may be a good investment or as they say in Irish Dubh Linn … or wait that’s Dublin!

    But It’s very simple:

    You fly/ferry to Belfast take a bus/train get an international plane from Dublin or elsewhere, fly somewhere else if you want.
    You fly to Derry, get a rental car drive down to Knock/Shannon, fly somewhere else if you want
    You take a ferry to Ireland, fly somewhere else if you want.
    You take a ferry or train to France, fly to someone where else if you want.

    Spain won’t be begging for British tourists just for Open Skies too, they’ll just market itself to new markets. Bright can’t offer the sun nor the fun of Spain.

    I’ve been to English holiday resorts, generally I do not see much attraction to them … maybe Wales or Scotland a bit more attractive, Cornwall at a stretch.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Gove is an idiot who thought Welsh lamb came from County Antrim the way Guinea Pigs come from well wherever they come from that’s not Guinea. I know a journalist by profession doesn’t understand agriculture or geography, but that’s basic idiot.

    As is being tired of “listening to experts”.–001.jpg

    The farmers could always diversify, they could do the environmental stuff without the subsidy.

    Many farmers would lose their own jobs I’d imagine, it’s not simply a matter of seasonal workers being lost, and a lost to ancillary services would devastate their surrounding communities.

    You say they can diversify, but into what?

    They can diversify, but will they?

    What is the major rural plan for how communities are to manage without agri-food jobs?

    You can’t seriously expect villagers to upsticks and go to the city.

    Compared to 4 new migrants a day, the mass immigration into Derry, Belfast, Lisburn of rural people with only pensioners going the other way to North Down causes a HUGE economic problem as well.

    You seriously cannot think the likes of Comber or Dunnamana can manage without them?

    Look what happened to Belfast after the destruction of ship-building, there are East Belfast ghettos who think that past can be resurrected.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Also re tourists due to climate many more Brits head south rather than vice versa again uk should have a net gain…

    Hang on you’re claiming that UK has a net gain because Brits go south instead of North?

    Why is a Scottish penny in an English resort worth more than an English penny in a Scottish resort in a UK context?

    Surely the climate change argument also means more trips to Cork and Kerry for us Northerners, to hell with the strong Euro, it’s cheaper than flying to England.

  • William Kinmont

    all of Europe sees net north to south due to significant climate will have net gain in tourism due to stay at home holidsymakers if factors like loss of cheap flights, loss of EU rights and as you say strong Euro are taken into account.
    If travel to Spain starts to be indirect and or cost 3 or 400 pounds instead of double digit fees then msny Scots may well find Blackpool or Scarborough as far south as they can afford.
    Very little in the cost difference flying to England v drive to Kerry though flying probably quicker. Also little reliable climate diference England v Kerry.
    Put up border controls and add in weak pound it will add favor yo traveling East presumably all the flights grounded due to open skys will make airport slots within Uk even cheaper.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “No more hand waving, if the UK fails to find a solution a large section of the Northern Ireland population may go on strike again” FFS Kev you have been attending too many of them NI Civil Rights Anniversary Functions watching media clips putting “Sweetie Mice” into your head ! In NI today if we all sit on our arses and go on strike, WHO IS GOING TO PAY THE MORTGAGE ?

  • Sean Danaher

    I need to dig out the source – I was looking at it a few days ago but the Irish UK trade in goods and services are quite balanced. It is very unusual in that Ireland imports more goods from the UK but exports more services to the UK. This is very unusual because in general Ireland is very good at exporting goods and the UK very good at exporting services.

  • Sean Danaher

    Here is the source but the services figures are from 2013. (on p28)

    Irish Services exports to UK 15.6Bn and UK services to Ireland 9.9Bm

  • Sean Danaher

    I’m not sure where you get your figures from but the 800,000 figure is a gross overestimate in that the 2011 census data has the figure at less than half that at 395,182 see for example—England.pdf

    Largely because of demographics (a large proportion of the Irish in Britain came over in the 1950s and are now 80+) the current figure is lower

  • runnymede

    There’s some distortions there I suspect connected to (tax-based) headquartering of firms in Ireland and accounting flows between parts of the financial services sector. There’s a similar phenomenon with the low countries.

  • runnymede

    In an otherwise reasonably sensible post there is one glaring problem. If the UK does open up its markets to third country suppliers while NI somehow remains within the EU SPS system that will decimate NI farmers’ competitiveness on the GB market. Which is much more important than the ROI market.

    So again, such a move would be wholly self-defeating.

  • runnymede

    Yes that is their goal but it’s not going to happen.

  • Aurozeno

    Moy park have sold up and gone already , NI’s biggest employer ….Chinese owned now .

  • runnymede

    No that’s wrong – customs unions have to be for ‘substantially all’ trade between two jurisdictions under WTO rules. Just picking a few bits is not allowed.

  • Tochais Siorai


  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Remember the broken treaty of Limerick and Our miscalculation in trusting In the faith of the Saxon” would be a very loose translation.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The most significant thing which drove the native Irish into rebellion in 1641 was the enormous debts which had been incurred when the more enterprising planters made heavy loans ( secured on land) to the remaining Irish gentry. But we are living in different times with no way but bankruptcy to avoid compliance, which under Irish law will follow us and our children beyond bankruptcy even.

    Incidentally, I’m delighted that you appear to have noticed the import of my earlier point about the unlikelyhood of serious sustained violent resistance within Unionism to reunification, due to the economic enslavement of all here to the likes of Santander and the other banks. The only winners in the modern world are those who hold our mortgages and credit card debts, and “we and all the muses are things of no account”….

  • Aurozeno

    ” Suffer to some extent “…. even a 1% increase in the UK’s interest rate on its public debt on the world markets would cost them £20 billion a year . The UK ‘s non financial corporate debt is an eye watering 250% of gdp ….. the day they leave the EU the pound will drop like a rock….. how are UK companies going to buy the dollars , yen , yuan and Euros to repay their loans when the pound has crashed ?….. The UK are playing a very dangerous game , a game they cannot possibly win .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The Treaty of Limerick relied on the faith of the victor, and the refusal to honour its terms was a decision for the victor alone to make. Luckily the Belfast Agreement is an international treaty guaranteed by both the British and Irish governments, and no matter what is said about “British Sovereignty” being absolute by those who would partial use its terms, it is not something which can be broken without the connivance I’d the Dail. As you say time to pay note to the guarantees of articles 2 & 3…….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    To repeat an old song “ you don’t miss the water, ‘til the well runs dry”….

    This is why the silliness of voting on broad issues without reading any of the actual small print is so dangerious in practice.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So why does the Turkish-EU customs union include food products?


    Maybe you should look to the evidence before running your mouth with an arrogant I’m always right based on the hearsay of British politicans.

    Look I’m not an Anglophobe, I don’t want England to suffer but given the kicking the UK is getting in the WTO, its self-inflicted deadlock with the EU, and it’s hand wave solutions to Ireland, maybe it’s best not to think that the know it alls in the “Brexit Revolution” have a clue what they are doing.

    If the only goal is the imprisonment and isolation of the British people on their own island for their own safety then by all means believe what the Daily Express and Nigel Farage are telling you, and buy new locks, shut the borders and wait for cancer or a heart attack to take your life away watching TV.

    A customs union with the EU on some goods is perhaps the only way Global UK can have any compatibility with Global Britain.

    The only other alternative I see is Irish unity.

  • Georgie Best

    Many of these goods merely pass through Britain and represent some of the trade deficit with from the UK to other countries. A simple example, if there is some sort of chaos and tariffs etc then people in the ROI will buy from or and not They will get the same goods, but the appearance of trade would be different.

  • Georgie Best

    If the UK opens up to third party suppliers then NI will lose competitiveness in GB either way, but might also end up with little opportunity for export.

  • Roger

    UKNI underscores the nature of the jurisdiction in question. I’ve found that far too often an understanding of its nature is lost here on Slugger.

  • Georgie Best

    The extent to which it is unworkable is dependent on the extent to which the regimes differ. While the more swivel-eyed Brexiteers would like to pull up the drawbridge and disconnect from the European continent entirely, the reality is that there are a lot of business interests in England who want the opposite. Consequently, the differences between the EU and the UK may remain confined to certain areas only, so most trade will continue without tariffs or much in the way of hindrance. But agriculture is one area where disruption is likely and this sector is important to NI, and is the most likely sector for some differences of regulations etc.

    As to the effort in making it work, the alternative is a complete overthrow of three decades of Anglo Irish cooperation and undoubted political and economic turmoil in NI which will also damage industry.

  • Tochais Siorai

    No, it smacks of an personal obsession with getting a meme into general usage. You’ve tried, it didn’t work. Now all it does is obscure whatever it is you’re trying to say.

    But, hey, whatever works for you.

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: The EU and Ireland (North and South) should never, ever sacrifice its inner peace for England’s sake.
    Any suggestions about how you can translate this into a plan of action?
    I have one suggestion – a comprehensive free trade deal between the EU and the UK, but I get the feeling that you are too angry to accept that option.
    So far as I can see, all other options in the power of the EU will upset either Ireland or the EU commission.

  • lizmcneill

    Wasn’t the EU just saying this week that they couldn’t trust the UK to stick to a deal they propose because of the internal strife?

  • Reader

    Korhomme: Interesting, but the relevance?
    The numbers seem to suggest that if there are to be problems exporting food from NI; that NI farmers would prefer there to be problems exporting to ROI than problems exporting to GB.

  • lizmcneill

    Turn the countryside into a theme park while importing food with worse standards halfway around the world. What could go wrong?

  • Reader

    Jim Jetson : You’ll just have to get used to having an economic colossus next door called the ROI, which will domineer and interfere in your affairs all it likes.
    But haven’t you just indicated we are going to be isolated and ignored? In which case, what economic levers were you planning to use for the domineering and interfering?

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: We’re better off turning our backs to such hostility and make peace with our friends in the continent instead.
    I thought Ireland was already snug and content nestling in the bosom of the EU. So what is your proposal – specifically? Closing borders with the UK, or what?

  • Reader

    Trasna: Is there any good reason why Irish goods cannot be shipped by sea? Surely the cost will not be greater.
    If the cost was not greater it would already be happening.

  • Reader

    Korhomme: From whose perspective?
    He thinks Brexit is a good idea for the UK, so probably also thinks that Irexit is a good idea for Ireland. Even if it was not true before, the fact of Brexit would tend to make Irexit look a bit better.
    So your remaining 4 paragraphs look a bit Kevinish, to be frank.

  • Korhomme

    I’ll go with the idea that milord thinks Brexit will be good for England; and if there are impediments to Brexit, then they must be obliterated. Thus, if Ireland is an impediment, then Ireland must leave the EU as well. Nothing directly to do with any good that might accrue to Ireland; the benefits must go to England.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The lackadaisical purposlesness of the UK negotiations, with their assumption that they will somehow simply get what they want in full without making any realistic proposals is a reflection of the utter inability of the Conservstive party to find even the most generalised of Agreement over negotiation strategy even within the Cabinet itself. I am hearing hair raising rumours from family and friends over the water who are active within Conservatism.

    If I am hearing such things then I’d imagine others in Europe are also aware of just how utterly disfunctional the negotiations are from the British end. They are also aware of the degree to which the extreme exit strategy which dominates the current controlling interests in the Conservative Party in fact probably represents only a fraction of the exit vote itself.

    The sensible strategy after the woeful Conservative election outcome would be to have formed a national government representing the full range of opinions and to have created some strategy which would have carried the broader part of the country. Instead May played “ Game of Thrones” style politics and stiff necked it even against the concerns in her own party. As you say, the negotiators for Europe see this as something they cannot trust to put their full weight onto in case it falls through!

  • William Kinmont

    Environment money is all that is on offer .
    Standards will continue as now shadowing the Eu standards.
    Uk is not going to tarriff food imports to benefit a few hundred thousand farmers when we are a net importer of food , especially with Eu on our doorstep producing high standard and below production costs food for us.
    We could continue to produce below production costs without subsidy, what might be wrong with this.
    Currently subsidy and import tarrifs anf quotas sees a situation where alot of NI beef is feedlot finished on imported grains and soya. Whilst high quality grassfed native breed southamerican beef cannot reach our plates even though it would be much cheaper.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s not about closing the borders, but actually controlling them.

    I honestly don’t know what the Wisdom of Solomon solution to the Irish border issue is going to be, but there needs to be a realization that the current polarizing debate isn’t shielding anyone from their own demons.

    I think the “double border” plan offered by the Belgians for tariffs, customs, duties and the like with a sort of “Le Touquet” for goods where you have EU customs officers in Northern Ireland and dare I say it British customs officers in the South of Ireland is probably more practical than anything anyone else has come up with.

  • Pang

    At least there will be lots of new jobs created – in customs & revenue.

  • Accountant

    Look, guys, you’re missing the point.

    UK will net win on fishing, a new air access deal with Spain will get quickly airborne, and the Mittelstadt will drive a mutual cars deal through a “no deal”.

    The UK, however, will lose a lot of deals around the margins unless there is a fairly comprehensive trade deal with EU.

    This, however, pales when compared to the damage of a no deal to NI and RoI.

    Which is why we need to work all-island to kick Barrier into action and keep the extreme Brexiteers in check. Neither of these negotiation leaders give a monkeys about Ireland, north or south, compared to their “projects”.

  • Accountant

    I was at a loss also to understand why the RoI customs report meant curtains for an Irish Sea border. My interpretation was exactly the opposite – it’s a barrier to the land border.

    Why can’t the Unionists go for the big visionary win here, that accommodates nationalists (with a sustainable UK-Irish NI), by keeping NI in the EU Customs Union and Single Market and we (NI) get “special status” in the UK ?

    So goods arriving at Larne travel freely if from EU, but pay a duty if they come from UK (until UK gets its free trade deal with EU).

    On the way from Larne to GB, goods are subjected to UK duties unless their Country of Origin is NI.

    It gives NI companies the best of both trading blocks, helps some RoI companies, who can “add value” in NI, so potentially claim NI CoO. EU gets in some extra duty that NI collects for it (we’ll have that back in EU structural funds, please). The only marginal loser is UK, which would lose the import duties NI would have collected for it (although Brexiteers would have us believe there won’t be any from the EU because the EU will be desperate for a free trade deal with UK). In any case, “solving” the NI border gets the Brits closer to phase 2 of their exit negotiations.

    Could DUP seize the opportunity and move NI to a sensible accommodation of all-island advocates, that softens nationalist objections to UKNI (and makes NI better off) ?

  • William Kinmont


  • Trasna

    Isn’t it more of ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’. If Ireland had to ship its products, then shipping it is. Problem solved.

  • Aurozeno

    Toronto’s economy is 20% of the total of Canada’s gdp,….. Canada is a massive country gifted with many advantages and with a population of 37 millions….. whatever way you look at it and from whatever persuasion The ROI gdp is pretty impressive .

  • Accountant

    RoI economy has had a great run for a country with no natural resources tacked onto the edge of an ageing, unreformed trading block with lethargic growth prospects (EU, not UK !).

    Wait until Macron and Angela harmonise Europe’s tax rates, the EU spurns a trade deal with the UK and the UK, having exited EU tax regimes, stops EBay and Apple avoiding tax through Double Irish structures.

    And the EU is going to impose a border on the island.

    Brexit has the potential to be a major headache for RoI and it should not assume EU has its back.

  • Accountant

    The UK negotiating position may be oscillating all over the place, but that’s in large part due to an incapable negotiating team in EU, who won’t counter-propose or offer any vision themselves.

    It’s not surprising that UK is starting to reconsider hard Brexit as every other suggestion is being snubbed. That may be mutually destructive but the appalling lack of engagement and creativity from EU is driving the parties towards the cliff.

  • Roger

    As I’ve said here a few times, I didn’t invent UKNI*. In fact I came across it here on Slugger.

    *I’m not a very creative or inventive character I’m afraid.

    It works for me…

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The EU negotiating team have placed their priorities on the line and I for one can see the logic of their position, and the illogicality of those wanting to address issues which would require renegotiation in the light of any failure on the issues the EU is asking to have managed first.

    The reality is that the only sane position of exit is a Norway style deal. If we wish to trade with Europe ( or a similarly sizeable market in the US) it will be on their terms, not ours. We simply cannot require 37 other countries in general agreement to recreate themselves to fit to our needs. Without maintaining the common standards for goods Britain simply cannot access the European markets meaningfully.

    My own impression is that the failure of the British negotiators to recognise this simple fact is the principal source of the stasis which is leading us to a cliff edge. The sort of fight which is developing over Bombardier in a situation where the US trade deal is supposed to be saving us from any shortcomings in any EU deal shows just how unrealistic this bellicose approach which expects realities to shift to accommodate our requirements really is!

  • Accountant

    Let’s be clear; there is an overwhelming logic for a deep and light-tariff UK-EU trade deal. Any other outcome is dogmatic self-harm.

    Solving the NI border issue and the divorce settlement would be way easier if the future trade deal were part of the package.

    If I were in charge of the UK negotiations, my response to the EU’s current bad faith would be to offer generously on the divorce terms and then renege on this part of the package if a poor trade deal were not forthcoming. No one in their right mind will de-couple those aspects, so the EU is driving us all off the cliff.

    But let’s be clear, that is the option the EU has chosen, as will be the hard border across Ireland.

  • Aurozeno

    Ireland will welcome EU Tax reform … a level playing field for all , imposed simultaneously across the whole of the EU with no advantage given or taken, neutralizing corporate muscle within the EU , I will welcome EU universal healthcare and all the wonderful new projects than can now be undertaken by further integration . Imagine mighty EU aircraft carriers pulling into Cobh harbour with its silken ribboned jet fighters swooping low over Dundalk thrilling the kids .
    I believe the EU will provide a great future for Ireland and its children . I regret the UK leaving and the hard border that will inevitably ensue , if its any consolation to you I doubt very much that it will be there for very long .

  • lizmcneill

    And what else might be in hat grass-fed beef? Is Argentina still the world’s largest producer of angel dust?

  • Stephen Kelly

    The United Kingdom needs to understand it is completely powerless over the European Union:

    OK i see where you are coming from but what if they send one of the new gunboats after all the sea temperature is OK here in Europe. Or a brand new aircraft carrier with all new french instruction manuals and they can pretend the planes are resting below decks. and then do what they have done for centuries threaten all twenty seven countries.

  • William Kinmont

    We were a big user once until the market demanded change. They may or may not change to get access to our market.
    World trade prices and free trade is going to hit NI agrifood no matter how many statements people make about hormone beef or chlorinated chicken. To be honest if the price was right in the supermarket people would buy it.
    I am very much not anti farmer especially family ones, I am one. I would like people to wake up to what is coming.
    Give and UK gov is abandoning productive farming in favor of the environment. This makes sense in GB terms, cheaper food and less costs less costs for tb etc. Their one big agrifood export whiskey actually whisky not affected
    Labour government even more keen on cheap food and see farmers as rich landowners

  • Georgie Best

    There is no EU bad faith, they are doing as they always said they would. If the UK agrees to pay its debts, agrees to treat EU citizens settled in the UK humanly and does not use NI as a hostage then phase one of the negotiations would be over. Agree to a Norway deal, with something plus for NI, and phase 2 would be over in a week.