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FOCUS - Osservatorio Brexit N. 1 - 21/06/2017

 Brexit: To customs union, or not to customs union, that is the question

February has seen four big issues dominate the Brexit discussion on this side of the Channel: (i) whether or not to remain in the EU customs union; (ii) how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland, which is leaving the EU, and the island of Ireland, which is remaining an EU Member State; (iii) the negotiation of a transition agreement with the EU; and (iv) the attribution in the Withdrawal Agreement of the “devolved powers” currently exercised by the EU. The first two issues are linked. To remain in the customs union with the EU solves the problem of a hard border, because both Irish territories would be part of the same customs union and therefore no border check posts will be required. To leave the EU customs union would potentially return Ireland and Northern Ireland to a position where movement of goods and people over the border resembles what was in existence before the Good Friday Agreement. The solution: don’t remain in ‘the’ customs union with the EU but have ‘a’ customs union with the EU. Clear? Many people on both sides of the negotiations are yet to be convinced... (segue)

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