Sticking with Europe is Ireland’s best choice
A chara, – Anne Chambers (June 28th)recalls a time in our past before we joined the European Economic Community (EEC), and wonders if there are lessons to draw in the context of Brexit. After our EEC rejection, the Irish government turned to Britain, our economic hegemon. The Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement which followed was heavily tilted in favour of UK interests.
Ireland dropped tariffs against British manufactured goods, while Irish products remained subject to steep British tariffs, and the partial opening of the British agricultural market led to a vicious price war among Irish farmers.
This deeply one-sided agreement remained in force until we finally joined the EEC, gaining real equality with Britain for the first time in our history.
The EEC achieved what we never did alone, abolishing the British tariffs and trade barriers we had failed to negotiate away only years before.
Leaving aside entirely the fact that negotiating a new Anglo-Irish FTA, as seemingly suggested by Ms Chambers, would require us first to amputate ourselves from the EU and would directly lead to myriad new barriers to trade. The real lesson to be learned in the context of Brexit is clear: when Ireland and Britain do trade bilaterals, Britain gets the benefits.
Today, as then, sticking with Europe remains Ireland’s best choice by far. – Is mise,