During my lifetime there have been some political situations that have seemed to be intractable. There is Palestine and Israel, which never seems anywhere near a solution. Closer to home is the Irish situation, which seemed destined to run indefinitely, until the Good Friday Agreement, which was signed almost exactly 25 years ago.
However, this historic deal is under threat from what appears to be another insoluble problem; Brexit.
One of the most significant effects of Brexit on Ireland involved the Northern Ireland Protocol, an agreement designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement, which formalises a preference for no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Complications arise because the EU requires inspections of goods like meat, fish, milk, and eggs before they enter its market. Practically speaking, because the Republic of Ireland remains part of the EU while Northern Ireland does not, the EU requires a relatively hard border with checkpoints where these official inspections can occur.
To preserve the spirit of the peace agreement, the Protocol ostensibly establishes a way for the inspections to occur without creating a hard border; products like meat, fish, milk, and eggs must receive inspections when they move from Great Britain into Northern Ireland. The checked goods can then move across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
This impacts businesses because of the regulatory compliance and paperwork now required to import certain food products from the UK. The affected products from Great Britain must go through a border control post when they reach Northern Ireland. They need to pass inspection and have the correct certifications and paperwork accompanying them.
The increased difficulty of getting the food products across the border has led to a decreased supply in supermarkets and grocery stores, despite the enactment of three-month and extended grace periods. In the future, companies may continue to experience delays in receiving their orders as products become stalled or turned back at checkpoints.
In short, by forcing a border to be created, Brexit threatens the whole Irish peace settlement. Well done.
Since the 2016 referendum, Brexit has also had significant economic effects on the UK, both before and after the country’s exit from the European Union on January 31, 2020. Here are a few of the major economic impacts of Brexit:
Trade disruption: Brexit has caused disruptions in trade with the EU, which had been the UK’s largest trading partner. This has resulted in increased bureaucracy and higher costs for businesses. The UK government is currently trying to set up trade deals with countries on the other side of the world, which definitely sit well with their ‘net zero’ ambitions.
Economic growth: The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has slowed economic growth in the UK. According to the UK Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), Brexit is expected to reduce the UK’s GDP by 4% over the next 15 years.
Investment: Brexit has led to a decline in foreign investment in the UK. Many companies have relocated their operations to other EU countries to maintain access to the single market.
Currency: The value of the British pound has fluctuated significantly since the Brexit vote. In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, the pound fell to its lowest level in 31 years against the US dollar. It has since recovered somewhat, but remains below pre-referendum levels.
Jobs: Brexit has had a negative impact on job creation in the UK. According to a report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Brexit has cost the UK up to 950,000 jobs.
Social effects: Brexit has had social effects, with a rise in hate crimes reported following the referendum. Additionally, EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU have faced uncertainty and changes in their rights.
Overall, the economic effects of Brexit on the UK have been significant, and the full impact of Brexit on the UK economy is still unfolding.
But it is not just the United Kingdom that has been affected by Brexit.
There is no one uniform opinion among European countries regarding Brexit, as views vary depending on individual political perspectives, economic interests, and cultural factors. However, in general, the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU) has been met with a range of reactions from European countries.
Some European countries have expressed disappointment and regret over Brexit, as they see it as a loss for the EU and the idea of European unity. Many leaders in these countries also see Brexit as a negative development for economic and political stability in the region.
Others have taken a more pragmatic approach, acknowledging that Brexit is now a reality and seeking to negotiate mutually beneficial agreements with the UK to maintain trade and other important relationships. Some countries, such as France, have been more vocal about the need for the EU to maintain a tough stance in negotiations with the UK, in order to protect the integrity of the single market and discourage other countries from following the UK’s example.
Overall, while there are certainly variations in opinion among European countries, the general sentiment is that Brexit represents a significant shift in the political and economic landscape of the continent, and one that will have important implications for years to come.
The effects of Brexit are going to be with Europe as long as we live.