European Commission to publish paper on Irish border "mapping exercise"

The European Commission is expected to publish a working paper which will give an account of the so-called “mapping exercise” on North-South cooperation in Ireland, which was undertaken by the UK Government and the EU in 2017. 

The report says, “The findings of the mapping exercise fed into the subsequent preparation of the draft protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to the Withdrawal Agreement endorsed by the European Council and the UK government on 25 November.”

The paper claims that “Many areas of North-South cooperation have either expressly relied upon or have been significantly enabled by the overarching EU legal and policy framework and the implicit assumption that both Ireland and the UK would remain EU Member States.” 

It adds, “North-south regulatory alignment supports the effective operation of all of the implementation bodies.” The paper has already been distributed to the EU27 Governments.

This comes as the UK Government has appointed a panel of experts to advise on “Alternative Arrangements” for the Irish border. The panel will be chaired by Brexit Secretary, Steve Barclay, and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman, and will include representatives from Northern Ireland business groups and Tim Mairs, the Assistant Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Separately, there are reports that Ireland is preparing a No Deal Brexit budget, in addition to a normal budget plan for 2020. Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that the Government will decide “later on in the year” which plan it would adopt.

This comes as the Cabinet Office Minister, David Lidington, gave evidence to the House of Lords EU Committee yesterday, where he discussed the UK Government’s engagement with Ireland on Brexit matters and the lessons from the Article 50 negotiations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, meantime, told his Shadow Cabinet yesterday that “it is now right to demand that any [Brexit] deal is put to a public vote,” adding, “A ballot paper would need to contain real choices for both Leave and Remain voters. This will of course depend on Parliament.”

This came as 26 Labour MPs, including five shadow junior ministers, wrote to Corbyn urging him not to back a second referendum. The letter says, “Brexit must happen… a commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock voters.” It adds, “Labour has a vital role to play fighting for a Brexit for the many, not the few. But this is a battle best fought in stage two, after the UK has left. Rejecting any Brexit in the hope of securing a perfect deal risks the worst outcome – a No Deal Brexit… We urge the party to put the national interest first, to back a deal before 31 October.”

Separately, Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson said that if a second referendum took place, the party has not yet decided which way it would campaign. Watson said,  “If we do end up deciding we are going to campaign to remain in the EU it’s history making,” adding, “I think it is in the national interest that we become a pro-remain, pro-reform party and we let the people have a final look at what any [Brexit] deal looks like.”

Follow EU Today on Social media:

Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

Related posts