In the autumn of last year Border Communities Against Brexit was formed to lobby and campaign against Brexit.
Our objective is simple, to persuade all political parties and governments to ask the EU to place the European Border into the Irish Sea.
Recently more and more parties and the Irish Government agree with us.
This past week we have seen the first serious proposals from the British Government regarding the Irish Border.
In our opinion these proposals are very poorly thought through and effectively mean we operate to Equivalent EU Standards outside the EU.
This is Not acceptable, we voted to Remain in the EU and want the EU border placed in the Irish Sea.
Ireland has progressed economically in the past 20 years to an open, thriving economy. Business has reshaped itself to become an all Island entity. This was done mainly to take out cost by merging and increase scale to become competitive in the global market place.
The looming threat of a new border puts those businesses and their workers in serious jeopardy.
The North of Ireland relies heavily on trade with the South and in many instances a product is sent South to be processed, it goes North again for further processing, before being sent South to be sold and distributed.
Alongside these process is the regulatory framework which governs how a product is made and processed and tested. The regulations are EU regulations; the EU will not allow product or food to enter the EU without meeting EU standards.
The British government proposals this week in no way address these fundamental issues. These proposals would mean that No Border would exist in Ireland but all products going across the Border into the EU would be made and certified to EU standards to prevent customs checks.
Why then would we leave the EU?
Food is of crucial importance in these talks. The EU are not going to allow a situation where Britain goes shopping in the US as British Cabinet Minister Liam Fox wants, with the risk of hormone beef or GM crops entering the EU across the Irish Border.
So, effectively this week’s proposals prevent the British Government doing trade deals with the rest of the world as the EU will not tolerate a risk of substandard food entering the EU from Ireland.
In leaving the EU the North and border counties currently receive €7 billion from 2007 – 2020 in EU supports, these are mainly Peace Funds and CAP payments, but in maintaining our EU standards outside of the EU for the purposes of trade and open borders we will not have access to these funds and have no say in the EU regulations created in the future which we would have to follow to export to the EU.
This open border currently accounts for 2 million vehicle crossings each month.
Why leave the EU?
These proposals are deeply flawed and make no sense.
Thousands of jobs in Ireland depend upon trade remaining as it is now, keeping access to EU structural supports and protecting everyone’s rights under the EU convention of Human rights.
The simplest and most effective way to do this is place our EU border into the Irish Sea, those who wish to remain British on this Island can, as can those who wish to remain Irish.
It is imperative that the Irish government continue to argue against these proposals, the population of the North 1.8 million are entitled to an Irish Passport, therefore potentially the EU and Ireland could have 1.8 million of their citizens not protected by EU law. The Irish government must ask the EU to include in the Brexit Guidelines that a special case is made for Ireland and the EU’s border be placed into the Irish Sea.