Joris Larik in the Irish Times on the possibility of a EU Office In Northern Ireland
The headline of the Financial Times on 5 May – 'Northern Ireland tensions threaten to derail Brexit long-term EU-UK deal' – was greeted as a blast from the past. This blast from the past led to the EU requesting to set up an office in Northern Ireland. Joris Larik, Assistant Professor at Leiden University College, in the Irish Times on the possibility of a EU 'headquarters' in Northern Island.
The EU requested to set up an office in the Northern Ireland to work with local officials as they implement the complex new arrangements agreed in the withdrawal deal last year to avoid a hard border on the island. London recently started briefing that such an office would be divisive and dropped warnings about the Belfast Agreement.
Until these warnings were dropped it was not an issue in the North itself. 'I’m not aware that anyone in Northern Ireland of any persuasion was getting exercised about the EU office,' SDLP Assembly member Matthew O’Toole told The Irish Times. 'It was not a battleground in Northen Ireland before the UK government started publicly suggesting it was unacceptable.'
Joris Larik, expert in EU external relations at Leiden University College, states that 'it is not a territory question, because not even embassies count as territory, even though they are sometimes wrongly portrayed that way in the movies.'
Larik continued by musing the idea the other way around. 'Imagine the UK wanted a technical office in Rotterdam or Hamburg or in an important EU member state that they do a lot of trade with, to help out with all the paperwork that is coming their way. I don’t think that would make the headlines, I just can’t imagine anybody would be interested in that. It’s an uninteresting piece of news.'
This is an example of a technical issue becoming unneccessarily politicised by Britain, and it's increasingly a problem when it comes to something that the agreement hinges on: trust.
Read the full article on the website of The Irish Times.