Ireland’s Negotiation Game Strategy for Brexit

Ireland needs to play its hand deftly and aggressively during the EU-wide Brexit negotiations. Irish interests in the Brexit process, post-vote, differ from those of other EU states. For EU enthusiasts in states with limited UK trade, a tempting strategy for preventing a NEXT-IT (Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, etc.) is to punish the UK via a spiteful exit deal. That would be a disaster for Ireland due to spillovers. Ireland needs to fight hard to let the UK be allowed a smooth and minimally-disruptive exit, not face a mini trade war. Ireland would be hit very badly in the crossfire.

23 replies on “Ireland’s Negotiation Game Strategy for Brexit”

With respect, “deftly and aggressively” do not fit into the Irish negotiating lexicon, still less the word “strategy”. The system has simply reverted to its default setting i.e. Ireland is a “special case”.
The position could be summed up as having one hand out and the other giving the EU two fingers.
Unlike the case of Scotland, there is zero sympathy for Ireland among the other member states. The sooner this reality registers, the better.

Ireland is demonstrably more affected by Brexit than other places. We do not want a package, we want minimum damage.
An Irish solution to the problem, have UU and SDLP MPs propose a motion in Westminster something to the effect that Article 50 not be triggered until there was full agreement on the implications for the Good Friday Agreement. Since the GFA was very much a cross party endeavour, it would be hard for Labour or the Conservatives to oppose such a thing. So either a deal would be done to mitigate this aspect to damage in Ireland, or they might think it easier to just not bother with Article 50, which would be fine with me.

That Ireland, among the sovereign nation states that make up the EU, is most at risk of negative consequences from a departure of the UK from their company is not open to question. What is at issue is the appropriate Irish national policy reaction. Are we in or are we out?
Thankfully, from various utterances by the established political parties this morning, there appears to be an early realisation that it is the re-boot and not the default button that must be pushed.
The UK is not alone among member states in having internal regional political problems.
Nothing happens until the Article 50 button is invoked. The departure negotiations will take place under the complex procedures of Article 218(3) TFEU governing international agreements with third countries. These are generally subject to qualified majority decision with the involvement of the European Parliament. A negotiator has to be appointed.
The wording of Article 50 is “the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State [having decided to withdraw], setting out the arrangements for withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union”. The question as to whether there would be one or two parallel negotiations is left hanging.
Whatever the exact amount of the UK’s EU contribution, there can be no doubt that, even with the Thatcher rebate, the net payment is a very, very large sum and would leave an impossible hole in the EU budget (to be funded mainly by Germany) if there was to be any concession on the FINANCIAL conditions under which any third country can avail of the advantages of the Single Market. Assuming the UK ultimately accepts this, its bill would still be smaller as the EEA arrangements do not cover either agriculture or fisheries. But the headache for Ireland, both budgetary and in trading terms, would be even bigger.
There are no discernible upsides to the witch’s brew that the Conservative party has concocted. One wonders if the ultimate decision by it may not be to simply throw it out the window through the invention of some magic wand centred on the control of immigration, where, after all, the concerns of the UK are widely shared.

Good opportunity to frame the negotiations if there are no official or unofficial EU-UK negotiations.

The economic dangers to Ireland from Brexit are being greatly exaggerated. Prophecies of doom are being spewed out by the same clowns who predicted economic armageddon in 2010 and who failed totally in 2013/14 to foresee the imminent return to very high growth rates. In April 2014 the Department of Finance forecast 2.7% GDP growth in 2015. It turned out to be 7.8%. So, what reason is there to pay any attention to their forecasts for post-Brexit growth?

One of the few economists in Ireland capable of original thought, David McWilliams, is adamant that Ireland will benefit economically from Brexit. I tend to agree, although there may be an initial wobble while uncertainty prevails. The U. Kingdom was the main competitor to Ireland for American and other FDI in Europe and the closest to Ireland in relation to having low business taxes and belief in small government. It has just shot itself in both feet, is in constitutional crisis, is in complete political disarray (both in the government party and the opposition party), and appears to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown which is causing amazement to onlookers. There is every reason to expect a surge in American and other FDI investment in Ireland in coming years, with lots of investment that would have gone to the U. Kingdom now coming to Ireland instead.

Contrary to what some are claiming, Ireland’s stock has never been higher. That’s why the Dept of Foreign Affairs can’t cope with the demand for Irish passports. It is now seen as a model of sanity, stability and pragmatism. Its growth rate is 4 times the EU average. It has low business taxes, while the Nordic countries have crippling business taxes. It has good demographics while Germany, Italy and eastern European countries have birth rates barely half their death rates. It is virtually strike-free, while countries like France are riddled with strikes. It is relatively free of Islamic terrorism, while countries like France, Belgium and the Netherlands are virtually in a state of war. All these factors have long been present, but now, in addition, comes a totally unexpected bonus: since Friday Ireland is the only English-speaking (the language of international business) country in the EU and, while its nearest neighbour is amazing and horrifying the world with the speed at which it is dumping its traditional strengths of pragmatism, hard-headedness, political stability and common sense, Ireland is seen as possessing these strengths in abundance.

The main danger to Ireland from Brexit is political, the possibility of the artificial and (since the GFA in 1998) increasingly meaningless and now totally ‘unmanned’ border on the island being turned into an international frontier between the U. Kingdom and the European Union, requiring ‘manned’ immigration checkpoints, customs posts and even military installations to control it, with the possibility that this will result in political destabilisation and even a resumption of violence on the island. I don’t believe there is any possibility of a return to widespread violence such as we had between 1970 and 1995. But, I wouldn’t rule out a return to sporadic violence, directed mainly at border control posts, such as we had between 1956 and 1962, if a ‘hard’ border is re-imposed.

This must be avoided at all costs, regardless of what agreement is reached between the U. Kingdom and European Union. If the only way to avoid it is for N. Ireland to remain in the European Union, then the Irish government must push for this.

There is also the matter of Scotland. Ireland should show solidarity with its Celtic neighbour and veto any agreement hat forces Scotland out of the European Union against its will. To this end, the Irish government should invite Nicola Sturgeon for immediate talks and there should be a joint meeting of the Dail and the Scottish Parliament to coordinate strategy.

If Ireland’s demands can be satisfied on both these points, then I agree with Gregory Connor that Ireland should go out of its way to facilitate a harmonious trade agreement between the U. Kingdom and the European Union.


“One of the few economists in Ireland capable of original thought, David McWilliams, is adamant that Ireland will benefit economically from Brexit.”

From your contributions during the credit crunch I had got the impression that there were few people less impressed with some of his original thoughts, and he things he was adamant about, than you.

Being adamant about things can be inappropriate.

You are quite correct. I deliberately used the word ‘original’, meaning that he often differs from the consensus, but without implying that he’s always correct. As you will recall, in my posts here in the 2010-2012 period I totally disagreed with his predictions that Ireland would go bust, that it would leave the euro and that it would carry out a massive devaluation. He was wrong all those. But, he seems to have changed tack in the last couple of years, being one of the first economists to see that high rates of growth were back. He was right in that. And i think he’s right on Brexit’s effect on Ireland (which might be a lot different to Brexit’s effect on Britain)..

As previously mention on the other thread, Lessons have started!

“The City, which thanks to the EU was able to handle clearing operations for the eurozone, will not be able to do them,” he said. “It can serve as an example for those who seek the end of Europe … It can serve as a lesson”.

Hollande heightens City Brexit fallout fears
French president moves to block London clearing of euro trades, source FT.

Personally I don’t think Ireland will be able to influence proceedings much, once the French get the bit between their teeth they can exhibit a very dark side, words like “untermensch” come to mind.

The strategy of the Brexiter’s appears to be one of putting pen to paper and writing articles in various print media, some articles being factually incorrect as per Bojo with the pound at 2013 levels instead of mid 1984.

Sarah Vine (wife of Michael Grove) describes her response to her husband…

‘You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off,’ I said, in my best (i.e. not very good) Michael Caine Italian Job accent. In other words, you’ve really torn it now.

What a Gal!! Understatement of the century to Sarah!!

I do not understand some of the points raised about Scotland and N.Ireland. Neither exists in International law as they are part of the United Kingdom, hence Tusk’s refusal to meet Sturgeon. Scotland could vote for independence and if passed ( which is not certain) could then apply to join the EU, which of course would take years. The issue of their currency would be significant as they would eventually have to adopt the euro and as such probably have a Scottish pound in the interim, which initially might link to the euro in an ERM II i.e. their currency against their main trading partner (the rest of the UK) will be volatile. The currency issue was significant in the independence vote a few years ago and would again prove crucial, I suspect.

N.Ireland has the option to opt for a referendum on all-Ireland unity, which if passed would mean staying in the EU. However, leaving aside the attitude of voters in the Republic, as far as I can see Unionists voted for Brexit so it is unlikely they would vote to exit the UK to rejoin the EU.

One can read the Franco-Spanish story as this
“look, Nicola, we sympathise. Who would want to be in a union with Boris and Nige. But, we cant negotiate with you as that would encourage . So (winking broadly) until and unless Scotland engages in a constitutionally legal separation from the UK…”
Theres no milage in them doing a No Never No Way. There is milage in a subtle hint to Boris or whomever that gosh, yes, the northern colonies can be stirred should he cut up rough.
We need political scientists on this not us lot.
As for the wee 6…. who the hell knows.

Whatever about international law, Northern Ireland has been the subject of an international agreement with the participation and encouragement of a range of international players, including the EU. The spirit of that agreement was that relations within the island of Ireland would be an issue for the people of Ireland and the people of Ireland have not voted for a change in the status of the border. The British government must not be allowed renege on that agreement. I do not share JTOs equanamity on this matter, I do not see how nationalist parties can remain in government if the authorities are systematically harassing people crossing the border, that was supposed to be in the past.

It is sad to see the original inner core of EU member states regarding themselves as having some sort of proprietorial rights. Garret FtizGerald always maintained that a strong Commission was more likely to give balance to the interests of all Member States.

The treatment of Nicola Sturgeon by France and Spain is reminiscent of how Ireland was treated at the Peace Treaty of Versailles.

Sturgeon got exactly what she needed…a clear if coded statement of leave and we’ll talk, stick on the sinking burning ship and we’ll send flowers

The treatment of Sturgeon is atrocious. Catalunya and Flanders are behind the thinking.

It is entirely possible that the best way out is a General Election, with one party openly declaring to not push the Article 50 button, ie pro EU.

None of the U.K. Politicians have a plan for staying out of the EU. It was a cynical schoolboy debating exercise which “went badly wrong”.

Boris, Gove are still shell shocked, others like Theresa Villers look very naive in suggesting we will negotiate a better deal.

The Brexit electorate have been sold a pup, there can be no negotiations about free movement of people without massive economic destruction, no cherry picking of choice cuts and other what not nonsense.

With the damage done, the U.K. has to make a choice, either go, or stay in, eat humble pie, apologise and promise not to engage anti eu rhetoric whilst pandering to a hostile anti EU media. If you are going to stay in an attitude change is required.

This may be a possible with a GE after which a pro EU labour Govt takes control, hence in effect annulling the non binding people’s referendum.

May not be perfect but it’s the best I can see happening for all sides, and may even lead to a stronger EU?

Ironic that Ireland was able to hold a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty?

But with the referendum held last week Mr Watt says…

“The referendum cannot simply be repeated. That would be a clear affront to democratic principles, grievously harming the reputation simultaneously of both British democracy and the EU.”

But a second UK Referendum with a clear choice between Norway or WTO could be justified. Given two clear leave options is justified.

But what about the issue of migration? Can this be ignored in any and all future referendums? If it is a core principle of the EU (which we know it is)… and we know it was a core principle of the Brexit voters then there is only one option and that is WTO.

Moving closer to home, what ever the outcome is between the UK and the EU, the Irish Govt will require to have certain RED LINE objectives. Do Irish politicians know what these are? Is there a consensus on this issue?

Reintroduction of border controls, between N.Ireland & Republic would be a big no no. The border as it currently is acceptable. If various academics in Brussels decide to build a wall along the existing border then it is going to cause resentment in both parts of the Island.

Are the Irish dumb enough to be told that when a referendum result is not acceptable, they will vote again, and if Brussels / London decide to build a 500Km wall across the top of the Island that is acceptable too. I would like to think not.

There are threats to Ireland in the UK negotiations (post article 50), Irish Politicians better start getting ready to defend their turf.

In a practical sense, a common border police force ( which has been previously suggested) and better sharing of information at ports and airports would be a far more practicable and effective option.

Building a Gaza wall (West Bank Barrier) is just plain daft.

Ireland is in a very good position if it plays its cards right. Very interesting article in Le Temps yesterday. Philippe Monnier of Geneva U says Switzerland ‘S biggest rival in picking over the carcase of post Brexit London is Ireland because of its relatively low costs, English speaking workforce and education levels. Obstacles are commercial property law, relative isolation and weaknesses in fintech and biotech. Surely the latter could be bought in. A once in a generation opportunity. And revenge for BLTD RIP. Senior hurling.

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