UK Position Paper – Northern Ireland and Ireland

This document, a Postion Paper prepared by the UK Government, outlines the UK’s position on addressing the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland and Ireland in light of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It sets out the UK’s proposals in the following areas

  • Upholding the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement in all its parts
  • The UK proposes that the Withdrawal Agreement confirms that the current substantive position is not changed as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and that both parties recognise that it will remain unchanged

  • Maintaining the Common Travel Area and associated rights
  • The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a special border-free zone comprising the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and was created before either the UK or Ireland were members of the EU. The CTA arose to facilitate the principle of free movement for British and Irish citizens between the UK, Ireland and the Islands, and the reciprocal enjoyment of rights and entitlements to public services of citizens when in the other’s state.

    The UK proposes that the UK and the EU seek to agree text for the Withdrawal Agreement that recognises the ongoing status of the CTA and associated reciprocal arrangements following the UK’s exit from the EU. The UK believes that this proposal is consistent with the European Commission’s directives

  • Avoiding a hard border for the movement of goods
  • The UK Government’s clear priority in devising new border arrangements is to respect the strong desire from all parties and all parts of the community in Northern Ireland and Ireland to avoid any return to a hard border, and to maintain as seamless and frictionless a border as possible including customs arrangements.

  • Aiming to preserve North-South and East-West cooperation, including for energy
  • The UK proposes that the UK and the EU should focus in the initial phases of the dialogue on reaching a common understanding of the principles of North-South and East-West cooperation. It is important that the negotiations achieve the objective of upholding the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement itself, and also that, crucially, the UK and the EU do not do anything to obstruct the existing, wide range of cooperation between Northern Ireland, Ireland and Great Britain in the future partnership.

An in-depth discussion of these topics is described in the published document available from

and the actual paper is available at

Northern Ireland and Ireland POSITION PAPER (pdf)

The Government also issued 2 additional papers.

Common Travel Area Data and Statistics covers the available data relating to the movement of people withing the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland as of August 2017.

Common Travel Area Data and Statistics (pdf)

This document shows an estimate of cross border traffic between Northern Ireland and Ireland of around 110,000,000 people crossing annually and more than 15.4 million crossings between the UK and Ireland made by air or ferry transport. Trips are made for work and study, shopping, visiting friends and family, holidays and business trips. A number of people have a daily commute across the border.

Northern Ireland Trade Data and Statistics covers the available trade data and statistics relating to Northern Ireland as of August 2017. It covers

  • Value of trade between Northern Ireland, Ireland and Great Britain
  • Characteristics of exporting businesses in Northern Ireland
  • Volumes of freight to and from Northern Ireland
  • Agriculture and food cross-border supply chains

Northern Ireland Trade Data and Statistics (pdf)

Data from the Office of National Statistics show that the UK had an overall trade surplus with Ireland of £7 billion (£25.7 billion or 5% of UK exports, £18.7 billion or 3% of UK imports) in 2015. The majority of UK exports to Ireland were trade in goods, worth some £16.8 billion, while UK imports of goods from Ireland were worth £12.8 billion.

Other References:

Pledge to protect Belfast Agreement and Common Travel Area announcement.