Dublin, Dec 25 (EFE) .- Almost five years after the shock caused by the Brexit referendum, Ireland breathes relief. Its main trading partner and closest neighbor, the United Kingdom, is leaving the European Union (EU) with an agreement that prevents a wild divorce.
Since the beginning of this separation, the Dublin Government has nonetheless had the support of Brussels and its EU partners, as it had much to lose from a disorderly exit.
The solidarity of the Twenty-seven has served as a warning to London during the negotiations, making it clear that the bloc would defend the interests of all its members, including those of a small island of just over 4 million inhabitants located on the margins of the continent. .
Thus, at the same time, Brussels sent a clear message to other members tempted to follow the example of the wayward Albion in the days of populist politicians: “leaving the community club is not an easy task.”
Therefore, there were also voices in Ireland that said that, when the time came, Brussels would give priority to the general interests of the EU over those of this country, even opening the door to a debate on the advisability of leaving the bloc, the utopian Irexit.
The first test of the strength of this commitment came with the issue of the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the only land barrier that will remain between the United Kingdom and the EU after Brexit.
That divide, of more than 500 kilometers, has remained invisible since the signing of the peace agreement on Good Friday, the text that put an end to the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland.
The freedom of movement between brothers from the north and south of the island, the uninterrupted transit of goods and services, the absence of physical border infrastructures have been key to consolidating the democratic process. To guarantee the end of violence and reconciliation between the two historically opposed communities, the Catholic-Nationalist and the Protestant-Unionist.
And to also generate a pan-Irish, cross-border and highly interconnected economy. The teacher who teaches in a Northern Irish school has her residence in Ireland; milk from cows that graze in the north is processed in a factory in the south; etc.
The examples of this special relationship are numerous and the savage Brexit threatened to blow up this hard-working and delicate balance of social, economic and political forces.
In addition to Brussels, Dublin has had the support of Washington for the border issue – more clearly that of the Democrats than that of Donald Trump, enthusiastic about a hard Brexit -, since successive administrations have always been very involved in the process of peace.
THE DIFFICULT PUZZLE TO FIT
The puzzle, however, was not easy to put together. The United Kingdom reiterated from the beginning that it would exit the Community single market and the customs union to be able to sign other trade agreements around the world.
Consequently, the EU was forced to devise a plan to protect the internal market from the gateway to the Northern Irish border, but without altering its invisibility.
The solution has been in a complex security mechanism called the Irish Protocol, included in the Exit Agreement that London and Brussels agreed to in October 2019 and that entered into force last February, the text that sets the terms of “the orderly exit of the United Kingdom of the EU “, according to the document.
Brexit, however, has marked its own times and the arrival of Boris Johnson to the head of the British Government in July has added uncertainty to the negotiation about the commercial relationship that the two parties will have after this divorce.
The conservative leader was willing to close the Brexit transition period, which ends on December 31, without an agreement, which would have been catastrophic for the Irish economy, already badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The health crisis has also hurt British finances and, perhaps, caused some vertigo in Downing Street not to take that leap into the void that Boris bravado said he was ready to take.
THE CHRISTMAS AGREEMENT
Likewise, the end of 2020 has brought a new tenant to the White House. Democrat Joe Biden boasts of his Irish roots and has made clear from the outset that any trade pact must respect the contents of the 1998 peace accords and avoid the return of a hard border.
With this new post-Brexit deal, the Irish Protocol remains intact. It implies that Northern Ireland will remain aligned in certain areas with the rules of the single market and the customs union, in order to keep the border with the south open.
Ireland breathes easy. The Good Friday agreement is safe thanks to the Brexit pact, which around here they are already calling the Christmas Eve agreement, the best gift for this pandemic Christmas.
(c) EFE Agency