Ireland will have the final say on the future of the Irish-North Irish border following the Brexit. The EU said that it would be up to the Irish government to approve whether the UK’s proposals regarding the border and custom checks on the island are acceptable. Irish leaders are worried that the British divorce from the EU, slated for March 2019, will hamper Irish trade and business links and social ties that have deepened since the end of the Northern Irish conflict two decades ago.
When the UK leaves the EU in 2019, it is going to take Northern Ireland with it, which is a problem because Northern Ireland shares a border with the Republic of Ireland. “I will consult the Taoiseach if the UK offer is sufficient for the Irish government,” European Council President Donald Tusk said after meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin. “Let me say very clearly, if the UK offer is unacceptable for Ireland, it will also be unacceptable for the EU.”
Mr. Varadkar said he was hopeful of securing a firm commitment from London that its divorce from the EU would not lead to the creation of a “hard border.” “I’m also prepared to stand firm if the UK offer falls short,” he warned. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that the UK needed to avoid “regulatory divergence” between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. “If there is, then it is very hard to avoid a checking system,” he said.
Mr. Coveney in November proposed the British government to give Northern Ireland special status based on how China dealt with Hong Kong upon its return from Britain in 1997. However, that option has been dismissed by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which does not want the province to have closer relations with Ireland and the EU than with the UK.