Northern Ireland and Brexit: The European Economic Area Option
By Brian Doherty, John Temple Lang, Christopher McCrudden, Lee McGowan, David Phinnemore, and Dagmar Schiek
Brexit poses major challenges for Northern Ireland. It threatens to hinder access to the EU market and especially cross-border trade with the rest of Ireland, disrupt significantly integrated cross-border markets and supply- and production-chains, and impede the movement of workers and people more generally across the border. It raises questions about the future of the Common Travel Area and the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement as well as cooperation on policing and criminal justice matters. The challenges cannot be easily dismissed. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, has admitted with regard to the movement of goods across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland: ‘I agree with those who say that this presents one of the most complex challenges in our preparations for Exit’. In some ways the most obvious way to mitigate some of the key impacts of Brexit on Northern Ireland is for Northern Ireland to join the European Economic Area (EEA). This paper sets out the case and addresses the difficulties.