This is an update to the response submitted by the authors for the 2016 inquiry on the same topic – it has been updated in light of developments within the UK and the EU and in terms of the focus of the inquiry.
UK Government ministers maintain with regard to Brexit’s impact on the Ireland-Northern Ireland border that there will be ‘no “hard” border with Ireland’ and that there will be no‘return to the borders of the past’. There is certainly no appetite for the return of the fortified border posts which were so emblematic of the Troubles. But such claims also attempt to downplay the day-to-day impact which Brexit will have on the island of Ireland. A hardening of border does not necessarily involve the installation of guard towers and razor wire, it could be characterised by the imposition of administrative processes which curtail trade in goods and services, or investment flows, or which make cross-border travel more difficult for people.
This submission evaluates the distinct implications of Brexit on the Irish land border on two separate fronts: in terms of trade, and in terms of citizens’ rights. On trade, it considers what leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union implies for the border; how other EU Member States with an external land border operate those borders; and what this suggests as the best negotiating outcome for the Irish land border in trade terms. It also considers the reciprocal rights of Irish and UK citizens as part of the legislation and practice that make up the Common Travel Area, and considers how Brexit impacts both on the Common Travel Area and its rights, and on the EU citizenship rights that Irish nationals in Northern Ireland currently hold.