Ireland’s interest lies with France in the Brexit fishing dispute
In the current fishing dispute between France and the UK, Ireland’s sympathies and interests are largely aligned with those of France. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we want to get involved in the details of the issue or that we enjoy having two friends at loggerheads. We naturally welcome recent indications that both sides may be moving away from a reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo. Ireland’s hope is to see the confrontation resolved quickly and amicably, through common sense and compromise, with full respect for commitments and international law.
However, there is no doubt which side of the current disagreement we have the most affinities. There are four main reasons for this.
Ireland and France are first and foremost members of the European Union, a close partnership that our British friends have unfortunately chosen to leave. Membership of the EU implies a high degree of mutual commitment and a natural solidarity in international relations.
Some British politicians and commentators seem in recent years to misinterpret the nature of EU membership. They talk about the UK developing its relations with the various EU member states, either bilaterally or through organizations such as NATO, as if France or, say, Finland, could have a relationship with the UK that’s somehow separate from their EU membership, like they could wear one hat when it came to Brussels and another when it came to London .
The UK needs to understand that the only relationship Ireland can have with it, on any issue, is as a member state of the European Union
Any real attempt by the UK to deepen its relations with individual Member States is to be welcomed and reciprocated. This is especially true for Ireland given our geographic proximity, our complex mutual history, the deep friendship between our peoples and our shared responsibility for peace on this island, even though this shared responsibility is no longer as respected as it is. should be.
However, the UK needs to understand that the only relationship Ireland can have with it, on any issue, is as a member state of the European Union. Ireland necessarily sees the world, including the current fisheries dispute, through a European prism. The UK itself has shared this perspective for over half a century. The EU is part of what Ireland and France are, not an organization in which our interests intersect from time to time.
The second reason for our affinity with France in this case is the strong support we have received from France, like our other EU partners, throughout the Brexit process. The EU has prioritized addressing the profound implications of Brexit for the peace process. He did it from the start, even when those implications were dismissed by hardline Brexit supporters, with Boris Johnson even suggesting that dealing with the acute sensitivities of the Irish border was akin to managing the congestion charges of the traffic in London. The EU has continued its constructive approach, most recently significantly modifying its own rules to introduce precise flexibilities in the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol that the business community on the ground has requested.
Eventually, London will understand that this type of behavior is counterproductive and serves to bring EU member states closer together.
Lord Frost goes on to say that he seeks to protect the Belfast Accord even as he distances himself and threatens to unilaterally undermine the delicate balances of the international treaty he himself negotiated to protect that agreement. In this country we know who our friends are as they seek to deal with the consequences of Brexit for Northern Ireland, working both to maximize the benefits for Northern Ireland of the Brexit protocol and to minimize any negative impact. . France is one of those friends.
A third factor that further strengthens the close ties between EU member states, including in this case France and Ireland, is the UK’s efforts to undermine EU solidarity. More recently, Frost was playing with Poland on the protocol by seeking to draw a false parallel between Poland’s current dispute with the European Court of Justice and his own attempt to remove the role of the ECJ from the European Court of Justice. deal he negotiated. Eventually, London will understand that this kind of behavior is counterproductive and serves to bring EU member states closer together.
Finally, some of the UK’s arguments regarding the fisheries dispute ring particularly hollow here. Knowing for a long time about Frost’s verbal provocations to the EU and his dismissive approach to the implementation of binding agreements, one can only be surprised at the lack of self-awareness that allows the British Secretary of State for the environment, George Eustice, to criticize what he called inflammatory French rhetoric and its possible violation of international law.
Rhetoric on all sides should be rejected. A compromise on fishing must be sought. As Wellington himself commented when reviewing the carnage at Waterloo, the worst thing after a big defeat is a big victory.