Friel discusses Brexit breakdown with Clare FM
Professor Raymond J Friel was a guest on the Morning Focus show with Gavin Grace on Clare FM discussing the latest issues with Brexit.
Following the collapse of the agreement to move from Phase I to Phase II of the British withdrawal from the EU negotiations, Friel pointed out that it was surprising that the Irish and British governments had not done more to bring the DUP on board with the proposed wording on the issues of the Irish border. However, there was hope that the concept of regulatory convergence introduced in the draft agreement, could be expanded to cover not only north-south trade but also east-west trade with Great Britain itself. Friel noted that whatever border existed on this island would have to be identical to that which was in place in France or other sea ports in the continent. It was in Ireland’s interest that such a border be as frictionless as possible, not only for ease of trade with the UK but also our ability to use the UK as a conduit for trade to the continent.
Friel pointed out that the British Irish Chamber of Commerce had suggested such a solution that would keep the UK as part of the customs union but not the single market. Accepting that the UK was leaving, Ireland had to look at what was in our best interests and regulatory convergence was the most promising option available.
The danger was that with all the focus on the Irish border, our trading relations with Great Britain were being jeopardised. In particular politicians from all countries and divides had to be more measured in their words and conscious of how they would be perceived by others.
In an optimistic note, Friel stated that he had never known a contentious matter to be agreed in the EU a full 10 days before a summit. Europeans loved the drama of late night meetings, breakdowns and walkouts and hopefully they would still be able to come to an agreement. Even so, this would only be the beginning and Phase II would be even more complex.