RTE reports that the European Commission is expected to publish a working paper which will give an account of the so-called “mapping exercise” on North-South cooperation in Ireland, which was undertaken by the UK Government and the EU in 2017. According to RTE, the report says, “The findings of the mapping exercise fed into the subsequent preparation of the draft protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to the Withdrawal Agreement endorsed by the European Council and the UK government on 25 November.”
The paper claims that “Many areas of North-South cooperation have either expressly relied upon or have been significantly enabled by the overarching EU legal and policy framework and the implicit assumption that both Ireland and the UK would remain EU Member States.” It adds, “North-south regulatory alignment supports the effective operation of all of the implementation bodies.” The paper has already been distributed to the EU27 Governments.
This comes as the UK Government has appointed a panel of experts to advise on “Alternative Arrangements” for the Irish border. The panel will be chaired by Brexit Secretary, Steve Barclay, and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman, and will include representatives from Northern Ireland business groups and Tim Mairs, the Assistant Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Separately, the Financial Times reports that Ireland is preparing a No Deal Brexit budget, in addition to a normal budget plan for 2020. Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that the Government will decide “later on in the year” which plan it would adopt.
This comes as the Cabinet Office Minister, David Lidington, gave evidence to the House of Lords EU Committee yesterday, where he discussed the UK Government’s engagement with Ireland on Brexit matters and the lessons from the Article 50 negotiations.