Mike Nesbitt: Move the border from the Irish Sea to the sea between the ports in Ireland and mainland Europe

A statement from Mike Nesbitt MLA:

Monday, 1st March 2021, 8:36 pm
Updated Monday, 1st March 2021, 8:48 pm
Cork harbour, which is one of a number of Irish ports that has services to mainland Europe. The EU could check goods on such routes, writes Mike Nesbitt

The European Union are adamant that Northern Ireland is enjoying the best of both worlds, with unfettered access to both the United Kingdom and EU single markets.

If that is the case, why not extend that privilege to our friends and neighbours in the Republic?

I understand the EU wish to protect the integrity of their single market, hence the new regulatory regime that amounts to a border in the Irish Sea.

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Letter to the editor

People seem to think the only alternative is a hard land border between the two jurisdictions on this island, but there is a third way.

The EU could conduct their checks on goods entering continental Europe from Ireland, moving the sea border from the Irish Sea to the ports and airports of the Republic.

This would reinstate the trading relationships that applied for decades within the UK and between the UK and the Republic, arrangements the government of Ireland and EU were happy with.

It also allows the EU to take back control of how goods are tested for compliance with EU regulations, rather than relying on the UK, now a third country, to carry out tests on their behalf.

I note the eminent EU commentator, Tony Connolly of RTE, is suggesting this may be the path the EU is considering, given their suspicion the UK is not applying regulatory inspections with sufficient rigour.

Moving the sea border from the Irish Sea to the Celtic Sea solves that problem, resolves the legitimate concerns of unionists over the Protocol and extends to the Republic of Ireland the trading benefits Northern Ireland is said to be poised to enjoy.

It’s a win-win-win!

Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist MLA, Strangford

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