Keeping the Flow

By Rafaella Spanou

Brexit backstop cartoon with eu law in northern ireland (Earth map courtesy of NASA

Besides the worldwide turmoil, Brexit has caused on multiple levels, the most important one has been the reformation of the trade relationship between the two great economies of continental Europe, the UK and the EU. The Republic of Ireland is caught in the middle, as it maintains a soft border with the first and is a member state of the second.

UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework promises to resolve any issues that had arisen up to that point, a sentiment shared by the EU commission and President Ursula Von der Leyen.

The question is: how is Ireland going to be affected by all of this? With the busy Dublin Port as background and the expertise of Trinity College Professor O’Halloran and the President of the Irish Road Haulage Association – the people responsible for transporting goods all around Ireland – Mr Drennan, I aim to shed some light on this new and uncertain path.

Report by Rafaella Spanou

Ireland’s trade relationship with the UK was heavily impacted by Brexit, with 40% of its agricultural exports going to the UK. According to a study by consulting company Copenhagen Economics, funded by the Irish gvmt in 2018, it was estimated that all scenarios of a changed trade relationship between the UK and EU would negatively impact the ROI.

Before Brexit, Ireland was exporting good worth of €16 billion and services worth of €22 billion annually. While its importing from the UK amounted to €18 billion worth of goods.

Moreover Ireland is dependent on the UK landbridge, the route of roads and ports that connects ireland with continental Europe trhough Britain.

The UK also has a strong relation from its end, with exports to Ireland averaging £41.6 billion.

To avoid a hard border situation between Northern Ireland and the Republic, a protocol would have to be implemented to ensure a continuation of a trade relationship between the two states as smooth as possible. The first-proposed NI protocol by them UK PM Boris Johnson failed to achieve that, thus the newly-proposed Windsor Framework by current UK PM Rishi Sunak was welcomed and quicky adopted by the EU, ROI, UK and USA. Only NI’s DUP is opposing the deal and NI currently has no working government as a result.

By 2022, according to the ESRI, trade between the UK and EU was reduced by 16% in total, while  imports and exports with Ireland decreased significantly. On the other hand, trading between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have increased.

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