EU to agree on automatic membership for potential united Ireland

The proposal will be discussed at the EU summit and will be included in the minutes of the council meeting

EU to agree on automatic membership for potential united Ireland

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

The government is to seek a special guarantee that would ensure Northern Ireland could immediately rejoin the EU in the event of a united Ireland.

Ireland is pushing for the idea to be endorsed by the other leaders of the EU’s post-Brexit 27 member states at an extraordinary European Union summit over the weekend.

According to reports this morning, the proposal will be discussed tomorrow and will be included in the minutes of the council meeting.

The summit has been called in order to rubber stamp the EU’s Breixt negotiation guidelines.

While the Taoiseach has played down calls for an immediate border poll on a united Ireland - he has been keen to ensure that, should the situation arise, the North would not need to endure a long-winded application process to rejoin the bloc.

The Good Friday Agreement allows for a referendum on a united Ireland where there is reason to believe a majority in Northern Ireland is in favour.

Mr Kenny has already warned his European counterparts that any Brexit deal should include language that would allow for an immediate return for the North.

The proposed process would follow the example of German reunification in 1990 – which saw East Germany automatically welcomed into the bloc.

While the move will do nothing to bring a united Ireland closer – it will send out a strong signal at an extremely sensitive moment for Irish politics.

It could also add to concerns in Britain that Brexit could lead to the break-up of the UK.

If the government’s plan is accepted, it would not be included in the official negotiating guidelines – as it is seen as a clarification of the law rather than something that would require negotiation with Britain.

“We expect Ireland to ask on Saturday for a statement to be added to the minutes of the European Council, which states that in case of a unification of the island in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement, the united Ireland would be a member of the EU,” an EU Council source told AFP.

“We do not expect a change of the guidelines themselves, but only a statement [of] the minutes” of the meeting.

“It would merely state the obvious - that a united Ireland would continue being a member of the EU,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

At a meeting with the Taoiseach in February, the President of European Commission Jean Claude Juncker warned that Brexit must not put the Good Friday Agreement at risk.