Ireland must prepare to battle with EU Commission in Border talks

If a no-deal Brexit occurs Ireland will find itself on different side to the commission

 Irish negotiators may soon have to pivot away from seeing the commission as negotiating colleagues and instead see it as more of a negotiating opponent. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Irish negotiators may soon have to pivot away from seeing the commission as negotiating colleagues and instead see it as more of a negotiating opponent. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney on Wednesday confirmed, yet again, that a no-deal Brexit will mean some sort of physical customs checks must be introduced on goods entering the Republic from the North.

He said the British would decide what, if any, checks would be imposed on goods flowing the other way. But to protect the State’s position in the single market and to prevent Irish exports from being restricted upon entry into continental Europe, the Tánaiste conceded checks in the South would be unavoidable.

“We are not going to allow Ireland to be dragged out of EU single market by default as a result of Brexit,” said Coveney.

“That means, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, finding a way to get an agreement with the European Commission to protect the integrity of the shared single market,” he added, identifying the State’s likely counterpart in the next big round of talks that will follow a no-deal.

Pitted against

Until now, the EU27 and the bloc’s official administrators in Brussels have all been on the same team. All Brexit talks have pitted Europe against the UK. Two distinct sides, with Ireland obviously on the European side.

But assuming a no-deal Brexit occurs and talks move on to what will happen at the Border, the Republic will be on a different side to the commission.

The commission is the body legally tasked with ensuring member states adhere to Single Market rules. It is with this group that Ireland must contend on the fine details of customs checks, not other member states.

It is in the commission’s interests to have an Irish customs checks as visible and obtrusive as possible, and as close to the actual Border as tolerable. The State will have other priorities in almost every regard.

Irish negotiators may soon have to pivot away from seeing the commission as negotiating colleagues and instead see it as more of a negotiating opponent.

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