Ireland is named as the country which seeks a softer Brexit process. The states’ relationship with the United Kingdom (UK) has some unique aspects that are not specific to any other countries of the EU.
Mr. Murphy says that he does not believe that the circumstances will have a major impact on the other 26 states. However, after Brexit referendum he has visited the 18 capitals of the EU, where he heard assurances that the problems in Ireland during the negotiations will be taken into account.
“First of all, it is Northern Ireland with a population of 1.8 million. Under the Good Friday peace agreement, they are British nationals and have a UK passport, but also they have Irish and European citizenship. For many centuries we did not have walls and later a common travel area was created. There is a mini Schengen zone between the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland, The walls were a result of the civil war, which killed 3,500 people. We cannot allow any optimal steps back into the dark days of the past”, – said the minister.
According to him, Europe which has survived difficult peace processes in the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union Republics, understands that it is a must to keep the peace process in Ireland.
“We won’t try to make new steps, a new relationship but simply to maintain the status quo,” – says Mr. Murphy.
A positive start
The minister said that the first step is in assessing the negotiation process in a positive manner. He said that Ireland is not the only country that wants the strongest possible future relations with the UK – the strong trade relations are supported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Among these states Lithuania can also be mentioned.
Therefore, he said that no one has the desire to achieve the so-called “hard Brexit” which would bring losses to everyone. Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister, in a letter declaring the Lisbon Treaty the activation of Article 50 and Donald Tusk’s, European Council President, answered what gives hope to the politician is that things will go as far as possible in an orderly and peaceful way.
“Of course, we agree that the state, which leaves the EU does not have better conditions than those who are staying but it does not need to punish the UK. Even if the EU, as me personally is convinced that the UK decision to withdraw was bad, it does not mean that you do not need to accept and respect it “, – says Mr. Murphy.
However, he points out the need to maintain EU unity and show that the rest of the 27 states can speak with one voice. Therefore, the decision to grant of Brussels to grant a negotiating mandate to Michel Barnier and his team, which will negotiate on behalf of all States, was correct.
Getting ready for losses
According to Murphy, many studies have been done in Ireland on Brexits’ impact on the Irish economy, and all of them have shown that this process will have negative consequences for the economy. The main reason – the UK is Ireland’s largest trading partner.
“When half of our food products are sold to one country then we can have a disproportionately large impact. Statistics show that we will lose the same economic growth as in the UK “, – says the minister.
Dublin has already taken to look for opportunities to diversify the country’s trade. Particularly vulnerable is the agricultural sector since Ireland exports 90% of this production. States’ development agencies are working intensively all over the world, especially the EU, to find new markets and communication all the while enhancing the existing ones.
In addition, Ireland is confident that once the UK leaves the EU, additional opportunities to attract investment will appear. In Dublin and Cork, the country’s major cities have seen more foreign companies that are looking for investment opportunities.
“English for business can be to our advantage. These investments should reduce the Brexit effect. It will not be eliminated or fully compensated, but slightly offset, “- he says Mr. Murphy.
However, he says that Dublin will not take action to attract specific companies from London. It is believed that after Brexit, the capital of the UK will withdraw part of the financial services business, which is an important access to the EU single market. Ireland is named as one of the main candidates to take over at least some of these companies.
The agenda is being implemented
Brexit talks have not yet started but many experts had doubts about the real possibility to negotiate on all aspects of the withdrawal in less than two years. In addition, the British seek to simultaneously take place in and talk on the future EU-UK relations, in particular the future of trade relations.
Mr. Murphy, who worked directly on the matter, said that an agreement on Brexit conditions during this period of time is a real challenge because it is necessary to agree on the four issues.
First of all, the remaining 27 states will have to agree on what will be transferred to the UK and the EU agencies, it should not be a difficult problem. It also raised the question of Northern Ireland, who Mr. Murphy considers should not cause problems because the interest of all sides – to maintain open borders.
The remaining two issues are on civil rights and the amount of UK’s withdrawal. The minister says that if the UK would agree with the fact that EU citizens in Britain and the British in the EU are treated equally, the agreement also should not cause many problems. But if London chooses a different status for Europeans then the negotiations will probably fail.
Perhaps the most passionate debates are on the question of the amount the UK will have to pay to Brussels. Mr. Murphy believes that this negotiation is not as difficult because it is not some vague imaginary numbers but specific state obligations approved by contracts and signatures. The British on this issue are unlikely to have much space for negotiations.
The Irish minister said that the negotiations on the future EU-UK relations, which includes not only trade, but also in many other areas is another story.
“It will be difficult, even it is not clear exactly when the negotiations will begin. The EU’s position makes it clear that a number of conversations and negotiations will take place on the withdrawal conditions at the time because no one wants to suddenly “fall off the cliff.” It will probably be a transitional period. However, the new relationship will have to be approved by all EU Parliaments, rather than a qualified majority as is the case of a withdrawal. Therefore, due to the need of many voting’s it will not be a single package, “- explains Mr. Murphy.
The article was produced in cooperation with Verslo Žinios