It would be almost impossible to have escaped hearing the word ‘Brexit’ (meaning Britain’s impending exit from the European Union) in recent months as the disbelief at the result of the vote gave way to dismay and concern over what this event could mean for our own shores. There have been many concerns regarding Irish workers working in the UK and commuting home at the weekend and vice versa as well as worries about the possibility of there being more stringent borders in place which could very negatively impact Irish trade.
Recently, it has been reported that these concerns may well be directly addressed before the planned exit. It has been suggested that British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to publish a policy paper on Anglo-Irish relations to suggest that the two countries adopt what is known as a ‘Schengen Area’. This would mean that there would be a unique border between the UK and Ireland allowing for ease of movement and trade, effectively creating their own union. This could be welcome news to many Irish workers in the United Kingdom. The move would allow citizens of both countries to freely work in the other, whilst citizens from other countries in the European Union may require work permits to work in the UK following Brexit. Our own Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has however stated in the past that he does not want to create any form of border, so it remains to be seen how this will be implemented.
It has also been stated that Britain are on track for a ‘hard Brexit’ meaning that there will be no softening of rules or lingering methods of inclusion once they depart and will be seen by the European Union as being a third party outside of EU law and customs. The drawback to this supposed ‘hard Brexit’ is that it does not allow for safeguards to be put in place for businesses reliant on trade with Britain, so the proposed policy could be welcome news to some Irish businesses.
It has been reported that British officials are now eager to get the ball rolling on Brexit negotiations in order to cement plans for the future relationship between the UK and EU member states. Brexit Minister David Davis has stated recently that;
“We need to get on with negotiating the bigger issues around our future partnership to ensure we get a deal that delivers a strong UK and EU.”
It is hoped that whether by this new policy, or through the overall negotiations that an agreement can be put in place that does not isolate Irish businesses or workers.
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