The Ireland Border Agreement: What You Need to Know
The Ireland border agreement, also known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, was created to address the issue of the border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (an EU member state) after Brexit. This agreement was a key part of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU, and has been a contentious issue in the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has long been a sensitive issue, with the Troubles of the 1970s and 80s being a particularly violent period of conflict. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 helped ease tensions and brought an end to the violence, but the issue of the border remained.
With Brexit, the border issue became more complicated, as the UK leaving the EU would mean the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would become an external EU border. This could potentially disrupt the peace that has been established since the Good Friday Agreement.
To address this issue, the Ireland border agreement was created. The protocol essentially creates a regulatory and customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, with Northern Ireland following EU rules on goods to avoid the need for a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
While the agreement was initially seen as a way to avoid a hard border and maintain the peace on the island of Ireland, it has faced criticism from all sides. Some unionists in Northern Ireland see it as a threat to their place in the UK, while some nationalists feel it doesn`t go far enough in maintaining the link between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The protocol has also faced practical challenges, with some businesses in Northern Ireland reporting difficulties in trading with the rest of the UK due to the customs arrangements. The UK government has called for changes to the protocol, while the EU has insisted that it must be implemented as agreed.
The Ireland border agreement continues to be a contentious issue, with the potential to impact not only the peace on the island of Ireland, but also the UK`s relationship with the EU. As the negotiations continue, it remains to be seen what the future holds for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.