Report on Brexit and Northern Ireland launches in European Parliament

Today, an independent legal report, written by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Katherine O'Byrne of Doughty Street Chambers, is launched at an event in the European Parliament, Brussels. 


The report finds that, whilst 'Brexit' raises many questions of unparalleled complexity in political, legal and constitutional terms, the thorniest questions undoubtedly concern the potentially huge ramifications of Brexit for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  The report summarises the unique combination of circumstances which mean that the potential adverse impact upon Northern Ireland is very great, including risking undermining the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, stated on his first official visit to Northern Ireland that "every single aspect of life in Northern Ireland could be affected by Brexit" and he described it as "the challenge of this generation."


Today's launch takes place just weeks after the European Parliament voted (on 3 October) overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution which heavily criticised "the absence of any clear proposals" from the UK Government concerning Northern Ireland, stating that this "has seriously impeded the negotiations". The resolution also noted that, although the UK's position paper on Northern Ireland "fall short," the Prime Minister in her 22 September speech "excluded any physical infrastructure at the border, which presumes that the UK stays in the internal market and customs union or that Northern Ireland stays in some form in the internal market and customs union."


The report finds that Northern Ireland is a unique and special case, and that creative solutions are urgently required. The EU has historically been willing to agree a range of tailored, differentiated packages with other individual states or parts of states in order to reflect particular legal, political, historical, economic and / or geographical circumstances. A range of potential models is set out, to address the particular needs of and challenges concerning Northern Ireland.


The independent report was commissioned by the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/ NGL) group in the European Parliament. It is being launched publicly today in Brussels.


The full report is available to read here.