GUE/NGL’s Helmut Scholz and group coordinator at the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) has said that the any push by the British government on future trade relations with the EU must go hand-in-hand with the issue over the future of the Irish border, and that the Good Friday Agreement must be preserved in all its parts.
Commenting on the recent developments, the German MEP said:
“Peace on the island of Ireland is too precious to be used as a bargaining chip during the Brexit negotiations. As had already been defined in the negotiation guidelines of the European Commission and under the conditions of the European Parliament, the Irish peace process must be protected during all rounds of the negotiations.”
“The reason is simple: the pacification of the bloody conflict in the North of Ireland over decades – which was introduced by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 – is linked to the economic and social development on both sides of the border. This became possible in particular due to the EU which enabled the coalescence of both parts of Ireland without having to solve the national question. There must be no hardening of the border and any move that does that would put the peace process at risk. If this long-established connection is broken, the living conditions of the people would deteriorate rapidly, with old conflicts in danger of flaring up. We need the EU to stand by the peace process and to preserve the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts as voted on by the Parliament and the Council,” the German MEP said.
“At the same time, the European Parliament and the European Council have stated that the future trade relations and the economic cooperation between the EU and the UK can only be negotiated after clarification over the future relations between the UK and the EU, as well as the recognition and guarantee of acquired rights both of the millions of European citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU 27,” Scholz added.
The German MEP also described those who put trade interests ahead of the peace process as “irresponsible”:
“Those who try to jeopardise the positive developments on both sides of the Irish border in order to gain the upper-hand in the negotiations are acting irresponsibly. The recent push by London has once again highlighted the importance of what GUE/NGL has been calling for in the European Parliament: that a special committee should be installed to continuously check and handle the effects of the various negotiating points on the future of the developments in Ireland; and that the establishment of a working team of parliamentarians comprising of national parliaments and the European Parliament would be helpful too.”
“And last but not least: Brexit – as well as the outcome of the negotiations with all its ramifications for Ireland and citizens all over the EU – demonstrate once again that the overall debate about the future development of the EU in all 28 member states remains urgent and long overdue, and that it encompasses both the social dimension and democratic participation of all citizens,” Scholz concluded.