Britain considering plan for joint EU and UK status for Northern Ireland

The plan reportedly includes a 16km-wide “special economic zone” along the border

Britain considering plan for joint EU and UK status for Northern Ireland

David Davis. Picture by: Ian Forsyth/PA Wire/PA Images

The UK Government is reportedly considering a plan that would hand Northern Ireland joint UK and EU status, following Brexit.

British Brexit Secretary David Davis is drawing up a plan that would keep regulations in place from both systems to ensure trade keeps flowing smoothly.

The sun Newspaper is reporting that plan would also include a 16km-wide “special economic zone” along the border that would see Northern traders operating under the Republic's trade rules.

Deputy Editor of Times Ireland,  John Walshe, says the plans face at least two obstacles:

"One - politically - how does it get past the DUP?" he said.

"The DUP have always said they will not accept any change in status from Northern Ireland to that of the rest of the UK.

"Secondly, it is not clear that it is compatible with the rules of the Single Market and the Customs Union."

Details

The Department of Foreign Affairs has no comment on the reports - however a spokesperson urged the UK to engage in a "more detailed way" on the border issue.

"At this stage in the process, the UK must engage in a more detailed way on the draft text of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, including the backstop," he said.

"The engagement must be through the formal negotiation with the Task Force, led by Michel Barnier. 

"The Tánaiste and Irish officials are in ongoing contact with the EU Task Force team."

Border

The British Government's Brexit subcommittee is split between two plans for avoiding a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May's preferred option would see a 'customs partnership' under which the UK would gather tariffs on behalf of the EU, with no need for customs checks.

The “maximum facilitation” solution meanwhile, would use technology to avoid the need for border checks - although proponents have thus far failed to explain how this would work.

Britain has agreed to find a 'back-stop' solution in order to avoid a hard border should Brexit talks fail.

The back-stop draft withdrawal agreement published by the EU would see the North maintaining regulatory alignment with the EU.

The British Government however, has indicated it will not accept the plan as laid out in the document.