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You and whose army?

Here is my cunning plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

Don’t build one.

The UK doesn’t want it, Ireland doesn’t want it. Problem solved, I’d have thought, but the EU does not agree:

No-deal Brexit would mean hard Irish border, EU confirms

The EU has injected further pressure into the Brexit talks by confirming it will enforce a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal outcome, despite the risk this would pose to peace.

It will enforce? Er, with whose… personnel will that be done?

28 comments to You and whose army?

  • Mr Ed

    Well, the Irish Army may be ordered out to do it, and will the Irish government really stand up to the EU?

    And then there is Frontex, the EU Border and Coastguard force. Perhaps Ireland will have to drop its Schengen Area opt-out?

    From their Twitter feed:

    Europe’s border and coast guard officers must be posted where they’re needed most. This is why Frontex collects information from all around Europe to create the most up-to-date picture of the external borders

    And their webpages:

    Roles & Responsibilities

    Schengen countries are obliged to deploy sufficient staff and resources to ensure a “high and uniform level of control” at their external borders. They must ensure that border guards are properly trained. EU and Schengen Associated Countries also assist each other in the effective application of border controls via operational cooperation, which is coordinated by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

    The Schengen area now extends along some 44 000 km of external sea borders and almost 9 000 km of land borders. It comprises 26 countries (including a number of non-EU states, so-called Schengen Associated Countries), meaning free movement for nearly half a billion people inside the Schengen area in exchange for strict controls at external borders. Simply put, the Schengen area’s external border is only as strong as its weakest link.

    The Schengen Borders Code governs the crossing of the external border, facilitating access for those who have a legitimate interest to enter into the EU and tightening security at the EU’s external frontiers for those, who have no right to enter or stay. It clearly states that the primary responsibility of border control lies with those Schengen countries that have an external border –land and sea borders and international airports. They must ensure that proper checks and effective surveillance are carried out there.

    Frontex’s mission is to promote, coordinate and develop European Border Management in line with the EU fundamental rights charter and the concept of EU-integrated border management.

    Frontex also provides technical and operational assistance to Member States through joint operations and rapid border interventions, as well as technical and operational assistance in the support of search and rescue operations at sea and organises. In addition, Frontex coordinates and conducts return operations and assists EU countries in raising and harmonising border management standards to help combat cross-border crime.

    So completing the circle that Sir Roger Casement started to draw when landing in Ireland with a shipload of weapons from the Kaiser, Ireland will truly be ‘continental’, the Armada finally avenged.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The EU establishment would love to have an army of its own.

    But it hasn’t, thank god. For now, anyway.

  • Pat

    The assumption seems to be that it is entirely Britain’s responsibility to ensure that there is no hard border with Eire. Run with that. Promise to demolish any hard border Eire erects. We do possess sufficient tanks for that job.

  • The Sage

    The material just writes itself. You can just see the sketch with two Irishmen standing in a country lane agreeing that there is a hard border separating the pair of them and only someone touched in the head couldn’t see that it was there.

  • bobby b

    “Er, with whose… personnel will that be done?”

    Didn’t France and Germany just sign, like, today, the Franco-German Treaty on Cooperation and Integration, the aim of which, ” . . . Merkel said, is to build a “common military culture” that “contributes to the creation of a European army.”?

    (What better way to incentivize the creation of this army than to construct a specific purpose for it, like, say, enforcing a border somewhere.)

  • Zerren Yeoville

    “It will enforce? Er, with whose… personnel will that be done?”

    Well, given that Mrs May has abjectly surrendered on everything the EU has demanded to date, presumably she will ultimately agree to having the hard border policed by the British military. Given that she unilaterally agreed to provide security guarantees for the EU instead of using them as a bargaining chip, this should surprise no-one if it happens. Her whole approach to the negotiations has been about as hard-nosed and realistic as the Beano’s Walter the Softy trying to avoid being used as a target for catapult practice by negotiating with Dennis the Menace.

    Alternatively, it may be considered just more posturing from the European Union, whose leaders seem as oblivious to the EU’s weaknesses as the UK’s leaders are oblivious to the UK’s (relative) strengths. The Facts4EU website today carries the amusing story that Germany itself would fail the criteria to join the eurozone if it were to apply now, as official Eurostat figures show that Germany’s debt-to-GDP ratio is just above the 60% defined in the EU’s own ‘convergence criteria’ for applicants. Many other countries now using the euro would fail to qualify by much larger margins.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Pat writes,

    “Run with that. Promise to demolish any hard border Eire erects.”

    Wut? What justification would there be for such an aggressive act? It’s not our business what Ireland does in its own territory.

    All the UK needs to do is refrain from putting up a wall or a barbed wire fence or any of that stuff on the Northern side of the border.

    As a friendly nation, the UK can certainly then politely suggest to the the Taoiseach that if his government does likewise then – bingo – there won’t be a hard border, the thing that both sides say they wish to avoid.

    What happens next between the EU and the Republic of Ireland is not our business, though it might be interesting to observe.

  • Nullius in Verba

    The EU have a cunning plan too. All those migrants currently sat waiting at Calais are to be relocated to new camps northeast of Dundalk. Along with all those presently arriving in Greece, Italy, Spain, …

    Oh, yes. That army! 😈

    More seriously, they would do it legally, through the bureaucracy. Ireland as a member of the EU are required to enforce all the tariffs and regulations that the EU does against outsiders. Failure to do so no doubt results in all sorts of legal penalties and loss of benefits. As a net recipient of EU largesse, and as reliant as any nation is on a reputation for abiding by the terms of treaties and legal agreements, they’re not likely to rebel. It doesn’t need an army, just a bureaucrat with a briefcase.

    Like I said before, the only feasible long-term solution is for Southern Ireland to leave the EU too. (Or at least, the customs union bit of it.) But they’d expect to be given a referendum too for a move of that magnitude, and the EU is very popular with the public in Ireland. Nobody is certain what would happen. However, there’s an extremely long history of resentment against the British for repeatedly screwing them over, and if we effectively force them out of the EU against their will, the army you need to worry about will likely be the Irish Republican Army!

  • Mr Ed

    Perhaps, if things sour a bit (more) with Eire and the EU, the UK government could repay the boundless generosity of the United States in the 20th century to, come up with some cash and, at our expense, invite President Trump to build us a wall?

    Irish emigrants could then take parts of it over the water and stick a bit in the Southern border as their up-front contribution to the USA.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Nullius in Verba,

    Even the formidable ability of Irish Republicans to whip up a grievance might be hard put to get much resentment going against the Brits for the horrible oppressive act of, let’s see now, complying with the Republicans’ own wishes and leaving the cows to munch grass where the watchtowers used to be.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Even the formidable ability of Irish Republicans to whip up a grievance might be hard put to get much resentment going against the Brits for the horrible oppressive act of, let’s see now, complying with the Republicans’ own wishes and leaving the cows to munch grass where the watchtowers used to be.”

    In the EU or out of it? And by whose choice?

  • In which case, I hope the bureaucracy in Brussels is setup for a run-in with “the boys”, although quite what they will call themselves this time around is unclear, “The All New Improved IRA” maybe? 😉

    We all know that this is not going to happen, simply because it would be political suicide for the governments on both sides of the Irish border.

    So in the event of an actual BRExit ever happening all of this nonsense will about “There must be a hard border in the event of BRExit” will rapidly be forgotten and/or disassembled away for the simple reason that making any kind of “real” barrier between the North and South would be idiotic.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “We all know that this is not going to happen, simply because it would be political suicide for the governments on both sides of the Irish border.”

    Yes, but will Ireland be in the EU, or out of it? Will they comply with the terms of the EU treaties or won’t they?

    Because if we’re living in a world where we can all ignore any international agreements we feel like, because it would be ‘political suicide’ to comply, then we never needed any of the Article 50 or negotiation stuff, anyway. Just carry on trading with Europe, even without a trade treaty. Just transport all our goods into Northern Ireland, quietly shift them across the border into the EU, and then deliver them to their destination entirely within the EU ‘free movement of goods’ area direct from Eire. We’ve even got Amazon’s headquarters already set up there! (Prescient, or what?)

    We don’t need to get the EU’s agreement to a trade deal. Just proceed as if we already had one, ‘smuggle’ our goods across the border and defy them to do anything about it.

    But of course the EU and Britain have mirrored motivations here – where the EU wants a barrier against the movement of goods across the border, Britain wants a corresponding barrier against the movement of people. So if we threaten to leak goods through their wall, they can in turn threaten to leak people through ours. They just determine that Eire is back in the Schengen area, and let all the migrants get on the ferry to Ireland. Are you *sure* you don’t want to buid a border there?

    People keep on assuming that the EU and Eire are going to be sensible, logical, and act in their own best interests. But of course if they were going to do that, they’d never have had an EU/IRA in the first place!

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Nullius in Verba,

    You put the issue very well. But I don’t know that the Republic would be too pleased with this:

    They just determine that Eire is back in the Schengen area, and let all the migrants get on the ferry to Ireland. Are you *sure* you don’t want to buid a border there?

    What would make Ireland agree to be in the Schengen area knowing that was the plan? The Irish are well capable of figuring out that once all those migrants were in the Republic, there’s no very strong motive for them to move North, particularly if, as they believe will happen, the post-Brexit UK has undergone severe economic distress. It’s not like the situation in Calais where the migrants in the “Jungle” want to get to an English speaking country. Ireland is an English speaking country.

  • People keep on assuming that the EU and Eire are going to be sensible, logical, and act in their own best interests.

    Punishing the people of Europe is in the best interest of the Brussels Class.

  • Flubber

    “Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says if there is a no-deal #Brexit then Ireland and UK would have to negotiate an arrangement similar to the backstop to honour Good Friday Agreement. He says we can’t give up backstop in return for a promise that it’ll be alright on the night.”

    Not your decision sonny Jim, now fuck off.

  • Nico

    Juncker is blustering. He’s trying to scare DUP and others. It’s not going to work. Ireland will have enough allies in the EU to veto any attempt at punishing Ireland for not putting up a hard border. If no EU member rises up to protect Ireland, or if the ECJ attempts to force Ireland all by itself, then Ireland will have its own sturm und drang about exiting the EU, and then probably exit. A more likely outcome is that no-deal brexit is followed by additional negotiations and a new treaty which ultimately manages to avoid a hard border in the Irish island.

    Thus no army will have to enforce the border because it won’t be put up by either Ireland nor the UK, and the EU will not be able to bring itself to force Ireland to do it. If the EU did bring itself to [try to] force Ireland, it would do so only legally, as the EU has no members that could invade Ireland (which would immediately ally with the UK in such an unimaginable event, and no EU member can take on the UK at this time).

    It is a bit fun to imagine the continentals working up the anger to attempt an invasion, but as fun goes, it’s pretty brief: a few seconds or so and the idea quickly becomes boring as they couldn’t possibly think they could succeed, let alone try.

  • Eric

    Well, the Irish Army may be ordered out to do it, and will the Irish government really stand up to the EU?

    Assuming Brexit actually happens, could the EU really afford to alienate Ireland, of all countries? With the UK out the path of least resistance for the Irish would be “Well, fine, we’re leaving too.” I realize the Irish public is currently very pro-EU, but that could change quickly if it looked like they were being dictated to by the, eh, Luxembourgers.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “What would make Ireland agree to be in the Schengen area knowing that was the plan?”

    To force the British hand, of course.

    “The Irish are well capable of figuring out that once all those migrants were in the Republic, there’s no very strong motive for them to move North, particularly if, as they believe will happen, the post-Brexit UK has undergone severe economic distress.”

    Even in distress, Britain is seen as richer than Ireland. Britain is the big net contributor to the EU, not Ireland.

    “It’s not like the situation in Calais where the migrants in the “Jungle” want to get to an English speaking country. Ireland is an English speaking country.”

    Supposing that their motivation is the language, rather than economics or culture or because they have family here already?

    “I realize the Irish public is currently very pro-EU, but that could change quickly if it looked like they were being dictated to by the, eh, Luxembourgers.”

    And that’s the big question. Would they think they were being dictated to by the EU, who they like, or the British, who they’ve got a long list of grudges against dating back centuries? Britain decides to leave, and acts all defiant and intransigent, and suddenly Ireland is forced to leave too. Whose fault is that?

    The EU are just saying “These are the rules of membership. If you want to be in you have to follow them. If you don’t want to follow them, you’re not in. Or membership is meaningless.” Yes, it would be an option to simply disband the EU rules and revoke the EU treaties, but that’s going to affect another 26 countries. Brexit would quickly turn into the entire EU falling apart.

    And while *you* may be happy with that, it’s unreasonable to expect the other side to agree.

    No, it’s very likely that a large fraction of the Republicans are going to see the British as the source of their woes. Again. But who knows? The war’s only been going on since 1641. They used to be like the Palestinians in the depth of their feelings. But maybe with the past 20 years of peace they’re ready to forgive and forget?

  • Bruce

    A Wall? How (eastern) Teutonic!

    Maybe what is actually needed is EIREXIT!

    NOW, before the forced “assimilation” (Borg style) that is already on the books.

    Some of us on the other side of the world are familiar with these lyrics from an old song, “The Tri-coloured Ribbon”:

    “His bandolier around him, his bright bayonet shining,
    His short service rifle, a beauty for to see,
    There was joy in his eyes, though he left me repining,
    And started away, to set old Ireland free.”

    Then again, like most modern governments, at the first sign of the natives getting restless about being swamped by enemy aliens, they hammer the daylights of the “subjects”, “pour encourager les autres”, as the Eurocrats would say.

  • Mark

    If you were Irish, whatever you think of Britain, would you allow tens or hundreds of thousands of these “migrants” in if the only reason to do so is to use them as a weapon against Britain?

    How can you be sure they will go were they are supposed to and what do you do if they don’t. Not something that would bother the authors of project 2040 of course but the people may well see it differently.

  • steve lindsey

    I believe that Ireland’s biggest market is the UK, and their second is the EU. As a great deal of their EU goods go via the UK are they not imposing an internal hard border.

  • James Hargrave

    As far as I can determine, a hard border doesn’t now mean some version of the Berlin Wall, it is rather scaremongering New Speak for a very soft physical border but, obviously, as things diverge, more and more of a customs border (albeit one to be managed almost exclusively away from the physical border and deploying technology that is commonplace).

    It is really amazing that anyone, even the Irish voters, can take their current ‘leader’ seriously. About as much talent as Trudeau jr

  • Bruce

    “About as much talent as Trudeau jr”

    Thus, it is imperative to look past the “curtain” to see who is REALLY pulling the strings.

    Most countries now are actually run by a relatively faceless army of “permanent” civil / public servants. “Will of the people”? Yes, Minister!

  • Last I looked (years before brexit), the eurosceptic UK had 23 cases against it for non-compliance with EU rules at a time when europhiliac France had more than 500 such cases against it. A frequent complaint was that the UK suffered more from the EUrocrats because our culture meant we were chumps enough to obey the rules, where the French had the sense to cheat when they liked and just drag out the resulting cases.

    Before arguing about whether Eire would obey EU orders to build a hard border in a time that would make Trump blink, take a look at what is happening to Hungary, who have a border the EU hate more than the Dems hate Trump’s wall (if possible), or Poland, whose failure to maintain and appoint Eurocratic-enough judges makes Eurocrats see red (or rather, see nazi – it’s just like Hitler not to do so, it is claimed). Take a look at what is happening to them – or rather, what is not happening to them – before assessing what the pressures will (not) be on Eire.

    I have heard Americans say that the EU constitution is hard for them to grasp since so much of its enforcement and non-enforcement seems to revolve around “what you can get away with”.

  • Paul Marks

    As others have said – without trade with the United Kingdom the economy of the Republic of Ireland would collapse, so just IGNORE the orders of the E.U.

    Was it enough that the E.U. (read Germany) “advised” the government of Ireland to stand behind private banks with lots of German creditors?

    But as David Davis (the minister at the time) has confirmed – at first both the E.U. and the Irish government (under the former Prime Minister) were quite happy to have free trade with a fully independent United Kingdom (the “Canada” style agreement), it was Theresa May who indicated to the E.U. that they could demand more.

  • Marcus

    During the troubles, the Gay Gordon’s, the Paras, Flattery’s Mounted Foot and the Royal Eniskillen Fusileers couldn’t hold a hard border. Good luck Mr Juncker

  • Mr Ed

    Valaraukar has been at it now, conjuring up images of soldiers at checkpoints on the border. This must be to push for Mrs May’s ‘deal’ to go through essentially unchanged.

    Troops could return to the border in the event of a botched Brexit, the Irish prime minister has warned.
    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a hard border could “involve people in uniform… possibly a police presence, or an army presence to back it up”.
    Mr Varadkar added that Ireland had been “victimised” by the Brexit process.
    An Irish government spokesperson later said Mr Varadkar was not referring to putting Irish troops at the border, insisting there are no plans to do so.
    “The taoiseach made it clear in the interview that the government is determined to avoid a no deal scenario and the consequent risk of a hard border,” the spokesperson said.
    “He was asked to describe a hard border, and gave a description of what it used to look like, and the risk of what it could look like in the worst case scenario.
    “He was not referring to Irish personnel and the Irish government has no plans to deploy infrastructure or personnel at the border.”

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