Withdrawal Agreement Backstop Explained

The Republic of Ireland is the second highest gross domestic product per capita in the EU after Luxembourg, thanks to a favourable corporate tax system and membership of the European single market. [12] About 85% of Ireland`s freight exports worldwide are from ports in the UK, about half of which are destined for the UK, while half continue to the EU via Dover and Calais. [13] The UK`s use as a “land bridge” is rapid (it takes 10.5 hours for the Dublin-Holyhead-Dover-Calais route), but[14] could be compromised by customs checks in Wales and Calais in a Brexit without agreement. Indeed, in the absence of trade agreements, the trade relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU (including the Republic) would amount to membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO). They stipulate that the same tariffs and tariffs must be applied indiscriminately among all WTO members (the most favoured nation`s criterion), unless some members have a trade agreement. [15] This principle would also apply to trade across land borders in Ireland in the absence of a trade agreement. If the UK were to leave the EU without “any agreement” (if the draft withdrawal agreement is not approved by Parliament), Northern Ireland (under the UK) would have different customs and regulatory standards than Ireland (under the EU). This means that customs controls on goods must be imported at the border, which could create a “hard border” with physical infrastructure such as cameras or guard posts. This would undermine the principle of North-South cooperation as defined in the Good Friday Agreement. This protocol was strongly rejected by the Democratic Unionist Party,[43] which saw it as a weakening of Northern Ireland`s place in the United Kingdom[44] and is seen by a number of commentators as the main reason why the withdrawal agreement was not ratified by the United Kingdom Parliament. [45] [46] [47] Since 2018, the DUP has stated that the anti-Northern Ireland ruling must be withdrawn from the Brexit withdrawal agreement if it were to continue to support the Conservative government in the House of Commons[49] although the party has stated that it is open to limiting backstops over time.

[50] However, it also recognises that the backstop would also not be a “comfortable resting place” for the EU, as it offers the UK, and in particular Northern Ireland, access to the single market, but without a large number of obligations arising from membership, including payments to the EU budget. It also argues that the EU could face legal challenges if the backstop continues, as Article 50 does not foresee lasting future relations. The withdrawal agreement and the new “instrument” on the backstop were rejected by Parliament in March 2019. The withdrawal agreement was rejected a third time at the end of the month. The Irish border has been described as a “backstop” by both the UK and the EU because of its importance to the peace process in Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a key element of this peace process. One of the three main points of the agreement was the creation of infrastructure for “North-South cooperation” between the Irish government and the new Northern Ireland Assembly. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is determined to “get rid” of the backstop, calling it “anti-democratic.” In April 2019, a report commissioned by the German Greens concluded that the backstop could allow the UK to undermine EU standards on the environment, consumption and work due to a lack of sufficiently detailed controls. [54] The full board was published at a later date and shows that the “backstop” conditions could mean that the Uk could face “long and repeated rounds of negotiations”. [68] In March 2019, further notices were issued that the Vienna Convention on Treaty Law could be used if it turned out that the backstop had a “socially destabilizing effect on Northern Ireland”. [69] Under the draft withdrawal agreement, the United Kingdom would enter a “perio