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Brexit: tonight Northern Ireland says “farewell” to Europe

The Republic of Ireland still has a bittersweet feeling about the situation.
31 January 2020
The Belfast City Hall - John Miskelly Photography - cc
The Belfast City Hall - John Miskelly Photography - cc

This Friday at midnight, Northern Ireland will officially be outside the European Union. Indeed, Brexit states that tonight the United Kingdom and its provinces will be officially detached from Europe. A situation which is creating serious questions in the Republic of Ireland, but also in Northern Ireland

But there is no turning back now.

Northern Ireland will therefore follow the Brexit guidelines and formalise its divorce from the rest of Europe. A bittersweet divorce, which is causing controversy even within the territory…

For since the first Brexit negotiations, the question of Northern Ireland has been the focus of disagreement and concern… What future for the Northern Irish province? Will it be cut off from the rest of the island of Ireland? What are the economic risks for the territory? Can a border, even a flexible one, create new tensions between paramilitaries, and thus revive the Northern Ireland conflict as it did during the Troubles?

These are all issues that unite and divide Northern Ireland. But Brussels and London are reassuring that a flexible border will be well established, with one aim: to maintain the economic attractiveness of the Northern Ireland market.

The Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, has spoken on this subject today:

Tonight at 11 p.m., the United Kingdom will leave the European Union… We’re going to say goodbye to an old friend who’s embarking on an adventure. We hope it works out for them. But if it doesn’t, there will always be a seat for them at our table.
I am ambitious about the future EU/UK relationship, but I also think we have to be realistic and not ignore the dangers. We need to start a new relationship between the EU and the UK on a firm and honest basis. And that means a level playing field.
Today is a bittersweet day for all of us who believe in the idea of Europe. But I am confident that Ireland – and the EU more widely – will continue to have a lasting friendship with the UK, a true partnership in terms of politics, security and economics.

A nice statement, which helps to reassure the Northern Irish people, without ever mentioning directly the territory of Northern Ireland.

The agreements that will therefore be negotiated this year, during the transition period, will therefore be of paramount importance for the future of Northern Ireland. For the time being, the Brexit, which comes into force this evening, is more symbolic than anything else…

For the United Kingdom and Brussels have almost 11 months left to negotiate the final commercial and security terms of the Brexit… while some Irish and Northern Irish are beginning to dream of a possible reunification of the 2 Ireland…


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