Posted by Jim on November 11, 2017
By Jude Collins (judecollins.com)
When I hear what the EU negotiators are telling the UK, I invariably
feel a jolt of pleasure. It’s like the playground bully – he’s been
condescending and brutal with you for so long, it’s a thrill to see the
school principal give him a bone-crunching kick in the rear-end.
So whatever reservations I have about the EU, and I have quite a few,
their stance on a post-Brexit border here invariably makes me want to
punch the air. This firm attitude is displayed most recently in an
internal EU paper which makes it clear yet again to the semi-deaf Brits
that if they want to avoid a hard border in Ireland, then our North-East
Nest will have to remain in the single market and customs union. The
rules must be the same on both sides if our currently invisible border
is to continue.
This internal paper is just a working document from the EU Brexit Task
Force under Michel Barnier; it’s not a finalized EU position. But it
makes clear the direction in which EU thinking is going. We’ve been fed
a diet which caricatures countries like France, Germany and Italy, but
it’s clear that in terms of the border in Ireland, the EU are the
hard-headed, logical ones, not the Brits. If you’re going to have two
totally separate economic systems north and south, you’re going to have
to build a border to show the dividing line.
Best of all, of course, is the fact that the British can’t park this
matter in a side road and move on to matters of future trade between the
EU and the UK. The EU is insistent that the matter of a border in
Ireland must be resolved before the talks between them and the UK move
to a new phase.
It’s truly refreshing to see the EU take its commitment to the Good
Friday Agreement seriously. The British and the southern Irish
government could learn a lot from them. And they’d better learn fast.