Make Northern Ireland a Special Economic Zone to unblock Brexit and save UK taxpayers
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Make Northern Ireland (NI) a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to unblock Brexit, save UK taxpayers and avoid a hard border
It's good for UK taxpayers: UK taxpayers pay £10bn to NI every year, that's more than the £9bn that goes to the EU. Making NI a SEZ gives it the best chance of economic growth, reducing the dependence on the subsidy, which can pay for better public services around the UK.
It's good for Northern Ireland: a SEZ would allow NI privileged access to both the EU and the UK. By maintaining regulatory equivalence with the EU in agriculture, energy and some other select sectors, NI can continue to trade with the EU where the all-island supply-chain warrants it. Politically, it remains in the UK, aligned with the democratic wishes of the majority of NI. Economically it straddles EU and UK on a sector by sector basis. This creates the foundation for growth and economic self-sufficiency and meets the wishes of the UK Government, EU, Irish Government and local parties in NI, all of whom want to avoid a hard border.
It's good for the EU: Ireland and the rest of the EU27 want a trade deal with the UK. But they can't accept a porous border on the island of Ireland if there are different regulations in the north and south. Ireland won't accept a Brexit that is bad for NI. The EU won't accept a "half-in / half-out" for 65m people in the UK, but would be open in the special situation of 1.8m people in NI. A SEZ provides the only solution.
The Good Friday Agreement provided for unique and unprecedented solutions to bring peace to NI. To maintain this international peace treaty, the UK and the EU must look for unique solutions, i.e., the SEZ.
Sarah Hynes & Ryan Loughran
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