Alliance publishes ‘Bridges not Borders’ Paper on NI in Single Market

The Alliance Party has today published Bridges not Borders: Northern Ireland in the Single Market, with the party maintaining that this is the best route to not only protect the regional economy but to provide opportunities in the future.

In the paper Alliance argues that the UK and EU Single Markets are not mutually exclusive and it is possible for Northern Ireland to be a gateway to both markets. The party stresses that its proposals are entirely consistent with the current political and constitutional settlement and represent a ‘Devolution Max’ scenario.

Launching the paper, Alliance Party Deputy Leader and Brexit Spokesperson, Stephen Farry said: “Alliance believes that if the UK is to leave the EU, it should remain within the Single Market, while negotiating a Customs Union with the European Union that replicates the current arrangement.

“If this is not the case, Alliance believes that there is an overwhelming case for a set of unique arrangements to address the particular interests of the Northern Ireland economy. At its heart, should be continued membership of the Single Market. This is our blueprint to make this happen.

“It is important to take into account both the current and potential future nature of the Northern Ireland economy. This includes the inter-connected nature of Northern Ireland’s economy both in terms of the UK and of the island of Ireland, with respect to sales and supply-chains. There is also relatively strong dependency on access to labour over a range of skills levels across a wider range of employers and sectors.

“It is not sufficient to simply protect Northern Ireland from the impact of Brexit, but also to allow it to develop to its full potential and consider what steps are required to ensure that Northern Ireland is best placed for its future development. The economic challenge goes beyond just avoiding a hard border either across the island of Ireland or down the Irish Sea.

“Economically, Northern Ireland must preserve its existing and future links to both the market in Great Britain and in the Republic of Ireland and the wider European Union and European Economic Area. Both are of fundamental importance and it is counter-productive and self-defeating for a choice to be forced upon Northern Ireland.

“Being part of the EU Single Market and UK Single Markets are not mutually exclusive choices for this region, and indeed could facilitate new opportunities.

“Any form of Brexit inevitably bring some form of friction. But under these proposals that friction is reduced to rules of origin checks, and the nature and location of this will depend upon where the Custom Union boundary is drawn.

“This approach would be entirely consistent with the current constitutional position of Northern Ireland as a devolved administration and the application of the Principle of Consent. Rather it would only represent a ‘devolution max’ situation, a scenario in which maximum autonomy would be given to the Northern Ireland Assembly.”

Read the full paper here:

Bridges Not Borders: Northern Ireland in the Single Market

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