The view of the Republic of Ireland from a bridge over the Dublin to Belfast motorway
CRISPIN RODWELL FOR THE TIMES
The Times, April 6 2018
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is one of the biggest obstacles to a Brexit deal. Reporting from Ireland and six other European countries, Raphael Hogarth, Adam Sage, Hannah Lucinda Smith and Ryan Watts investigate possible solutions.
the Irish government have said that Britain has until June to come up with a workable plan to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Without a “legally operable” proposal, Brussels has warned, the entire deal could be in doubt.
Theresa May promised in December that the UK would avoid “any physical infrastructure or related checks” at the Irish border. Yet it is still not clear how the government can square this with its pledge to take the UK out of the single market and the customs union, which the EU says will inevitably lead to frictions in trade.
The cabinet is divided down the middle. Some ministers favour an innovative “customs partnership” with the EU, under which goods are electronically tracked to their destination in order to determine which businesses need to pay which duties.
Others prefer the “maximum facilitation” option, which would use advanced customs technology from around the world to minimise checks. Both have been attacked as unworkable by the EU.
The Democratic Unionist Party, on which the prime minister depends for her majority in parliament, remains fiercely opposed to any deal that would subject Northern Ireland to different rules from Great Britain.
So what will the Irish border look like after Brexit? The Times investigates how Irish communities along the border live now, how other countries manage their borders with the EU and what a new regime could mean for the peace process.