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Session Overview
Panel 711: The Island of Ireland and Brexit II: Understanding Lasting Impact on Policies
Tuesday, 03/Sep/2019:
4:45pm - 6:15pm

Session Chair: Malin Stegmann McCallion, Karlstad University
Location: Audience Room

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The Island of Ireland and Brexit II: Understanding Lasting Impact on Policies

Chair(s): Malin Stegman-McCallion (Karlstad University)

This panel proposal is the second submitted that looks at the impact and fallout from Brexit on the island of Ireland. Whereas the first panel explores the political and constitutional issue, this panel turns to explore policies. The island faces some very stark questions and much depends on the final agreement (and its acceptance) between the UK and the EU. The island's economic links between North and South are now stronger than at any time since the creation of the two jurisdictions in the early 1920s. indeed, in many ways there is a single 'economy' in play. Brexit and any new border arrangements pose one set of challenges, the disruption to existing trading patters between GB and Ireland another and the UK's departure from the CAP, the CFP and environmental regulation is another. This panel has 3 papers. One by Viviane Gravey and Mary Dobbs looks at the environment, one by D Phinnemore and Katy lHayward look at governance issues and McGowan looks at fisheries.


Presentations of the Symposium


Brexit: A New Dawn for Environmenal Governance in Northern Ireland?

Viviane Gravey1, Mary Dobbs2
1Queen's University, 2Queen;s University Belfast

Northern Ireland has long been the ‘dirty corner’ of the UK, itself the ‘dirty man of Europe’. Environmental governance in NI has been repeatedly portrayed as weak – with low fines for polluters, no independent environmental agency and very little political ambition. Environmental actors in Northern Ireland have long had to rely on EU rules and EU governance processes to achieve (little) environmental gains – but Brexit is putting both at risk.

This paper investigates how environmental governance in Northern Ireland is changing as the Brexit process is unfolding. Northern Ireland is facing, in parts, similar challenges to Great Britain – having to decide whether to diverge from EU rules and processes, in a rushed manner, with little administrative capacity and no certainty regarding the future relationship with the EU – and in parts unique challenges – namely, the lack of a functioning Assembly and NI executive, maintaining an invisible Irish Border and respecting the Good Friday Agreement. Ad-hoc, civil servant and civil society-led governance is emerging in the current political vacuum in an attempt to address these challenges.

The paper puts these nascent governance structures to the test by considering their potential (continued) effectiveness in policy design, testing, implementation and enforcement. It will examine their role to date at regional, national and EU levels and how this will likely impact upon future NI environmental governance. Whilst the current approach highlights significant gaps and cause for concerns, nonetheless the approach in particular to agri-environmental issues is a beacon of hope for future NI environmental governance.


Post-Brexit Governance: Representing the Northern Ireland Voice in Implementing the Backstop

David Phinnemore, Katy Hayward
Queen's University Belfast

The UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, and specifically its Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, provide for new post-Brexit governance arrangements relating to certain aspects of public policy in Northern Ireland. This paper provides a critical assessment of those arrangements in terms of how they provide for effective engagement of the devolved government in Northern Ireland in the implementation of the Protocol and its ‘backstop’ arrangements. It assesses the mechanisms for integrating other institutions and bodies established by the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement with the new arrangements. It also considers UK arrangements established in the Withdrawal Act (2019) for the implementation of the Protocol and explores options for expanding on these and other arrangements for effective representation of Northern Ireland’s interest particularly in scenarios of continuing dysfunctional devolution or a return to direct rule. The paper draws on comparisons with existing institutional arrangements governing EU relations with non-member states.


Red Tape, Red Herrings and a Few Red Faces: Bringing EU policy Competences back Home

Lee McGowan
Queen's University Belfast

Much of the focus on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union has concentrated on the country’s future relationship with the EU post Brexit. Much of this discussion has had a very English feel to it and especially given the rifts and factional divisions that have consumed the ruling Conservative Party over the government’s handling of the negotiations. Much less attention has been given to the internal dynamics of the impact of the UK leaving the EU on the asymmetric and unfinished devolution process launched in the late 1990s. The, Brexit was never envisaged as a possibility and these settlements were reached on an assumption that the UK was an established and permanent EU member state. Does Brexit present challenges or opportunities in some areas ? Brexit certainly unleashes a series of issues about what happens to EU policy competences, issues of future UK regulatory frameworks (environment and health as two leading examples) and tax regimes. Brexit means that all four governments of the UK must go back to the drawing board and re-define their relationships. This paper addresses the constitutional structures of the UK with specific reference to Northern Ireland (and with reference to Scotland). These two parts of the UK have been selected as they were firstly, the two regions that voted to remain in the EU and secondly, have their own unique reference points. While many commentators have argued that Brexit has real potential to destabilise the UK (through the use of referenda in the next 10 years to ascertain their future status as parts of the UK) this paper focuses on Northern Ireland and is concerned with developments at the policy level with examination of fisheries policy and agriculture.

Great Politics, Bad Policy: Evaluating the Irish Backstop

Michael Holmes

Liverpool Hope University

The Irish government’s adoption of the backstop was hailed as a huge success and gained wide support in Ireland. Almost all opposition parties in the Republic endorsed it, and the public generally approved of it. However, it can be argued that the backstop was great politics but bad policy. This paper will analyse the backstop, and will argue that the backstop created a serious sticking point in Brexit negotiations, one which left no room for manœuvre.

This has proved particularly problematic for Ireland because of the importance of preserving a high level of trade access not just with Northern Ireland but also with the UK as a whole. Not only did Ireland get caught between its interests over Northern Ireland and its interests in respect of Britain, it also overlooked other possible measures it could have sought from its EU26 partners in relation to the impact of Brexit.

The paper will be based on interviews with key Irish civil servants and politicians. It examines the reasoning behind the adoption and promotion of the backstop, the extent to which alternatives were discussed, the political pressures that were at play on the Irish government at this time. If possible, the research will also include interviews with key officials in the EU, and perhaps also the British and Northern Irish administrations.

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