Facing the Rights and Equality Crisis: Achieving a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland in the wake of Brexit
An alternative to the Irish Backstop? An “All-Ireland Common No-Custom Area” as a Frontier Traffic Area under Art. XXIV GATT for products originating in the island
On January 25, 2018, the DCU Brexit Institute held its Inaugural event on “Brexit, Ireland and the Future of Europe”, organised in partnership with European Movement Ireland and Dublin City University. The event was opened by a Keynote Address by his Excellency Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, followed by keynote speeches by Hillary Benn, Chairman of the UK House of Commons Committee on Exiting the EU, and Herman Van Rompuy, first President of the European Council. After a panel of academics and representatives of civil society, the event will be concluded by a final Keynote Address by Simon Coveney, Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The British-Irish relationship has been typified by close cooperation since the 1980s, culminating in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. However, Brexit has created challenges and at times the rhetoric between the British and Irish governments has been heated. It was in response to the perceived need to avoid megaphone diplomacy in the 1980s, following the 1982 Falklands War and the 1981 H-Block hunger strikes where 13 hunger strikers died, that the British-Irish relationship was institutionalised in the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement. Arguably, Brexit’s challenges justify a commitment to using existing British-Irish institutions more fully or to creating new ones.
Public procurement refers to the purchase of goods, works and services by the public sector (and organizations funded in the main through public monies).
In Ireland, as undoubtedly in many other countries, interest in public procurement appears to be inversely related to the fortunes of the economy. In times of economic prosperity the procurement of goods and services by public sector organizations has tended not to be a primary consideration for politicians, policy makers or industry representative groups. However, in recent years public procurement has moved center stage for both the public and private sectors of the economy. For central government, the strategic management of procurement across the public sector has assumed priority status. Expenditure by public sector organizations on a range of goods and services is coming under increasing scrutiny with a view to realizing cost savings.
Next week, on 14-15 December 2017 the European Council is set to decide whether sufficient progress has been made in the negotiations on the UK withdrawal from the EU to begin a discussion on the terms of the future relations between the UK and the EU. As is well known, the European Council concluded in October 2017 that, given the uncertainties of the UK Government, not enough progress had taken place by then in the negotiations and that therefore the beginning of phase 2 in the Brexit talks had to be postponed.
On the 4th October 2017, the European Commission referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to collect tax debts from Apple, following a Commission decision deeming the tax reliefs provided amounted to a breach of EU Competition Law. Ireland allowed Apple to pay between 0.05% and 2% in tax from 2003 to 2014, which, according to the Commission, amounted to up to €13 billion in illegal state aid. Luxembourg was also referred to the ECJ, after giving Amazon €250 million in tax breaks was also deemed to be illegal state aid. Neither country collected the debt, resulting in the recent referrals, and Ireland has appealed the decision to the ECJ.
The DCU Brexit Institute hosted an event on “Brexit, the Border and the Internal Market” on 26 October 2017, supported by the European Commission Representation in Ireland. The event addressed the issue of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is arguably the most sensitive of the three items in the withdrawal negotiations, and considered also questions concerning the access by the UK to the EU internal market post Brexit.
The question of the location of the de facto border between Ireland and the UK post Brexit has major significance for the future of peace and economic stability on the island of Ireland.
The issue of the border has not yet been resolved, nor is there any indication that there is an obvious preferred solution for the UK Government, although both the EU and the Irish Government and indeed the UK Government have stated a disinclination for a hard land border. It is feared that a hard land border will not only restrict trade on the island but also, and more importantly, destabilize the Good Friday peace process and lead to a new spiral of violence. This gloomy prediction is reinforced by the nature of the political division in Northern Ireland on the referendum.