Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday announced a new proposal for governing the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland following the potential withdrawal of Great Britain from the EU.
In a speech to the House of Commons, Johnson outlined five elements of his proposal. The first element of Johnson’s proposal is to continue to abide by the terms of the Good Friday Agreement that currently governs the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Similarly, Johnson’s second element is to maintain the current Common Travel Area and friction-less borders that currently exist between the two countries, an element that both countries have already agreed to maintain regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. Johnson’s third proposal is the creation of a unified Irish and Northern Irish economic regulatory zone that covers all trade goods and agriculture on the island. This economic zone would only be maintained by the fourth element, a requirement that the Assembly of Northern Ireland to renew the agreement every five years instead of the indefinite agreements previous proposed in Brexit negotiations. Finally, Johnson’s final element is that Northern Ireland will withdraw from the EU customs union and join with the UK customs territory. Johnson believes that the creation of a unified Irish economic zone, along with electronic tracking and supply chain inspections, will be enough to prevent the need for trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
EU President Donald Tusk responded on Twitter that the EU remains open to continued proposals but is “unconvinced” by Johnson’s plan. Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a statement that Johnson’s “proposals do not fully meet the agreed objectives of the backstop.”