12 July 2019
Open Europe and Prosperity UK hosted an event on 11 July in Brussels to debate “Alternative Arrangements” to avoid a hard Irish border after Brexit. Speakers included:
- Nicky Morgan, Conservative MP, Chair of the Treasury Committee of the UK Parliament
- Greg Hands, Conservative MP
- Shanker Singham, one of the authors of the Alternative Arrangements Commission (AAC)’s report
- Tony Smith, former Director General, UK Border Force
- Hans Maessen, Dutch customs expert
- Patrick Smyth, Europe Editor, The Irish Times
The discussion was moderated by Pieter Cleppe, Head of Open Europe’s Brussels office.
The AAC presented its Interim Report (published in London on 24 June 2019) which identifies potential alternatives which can serve as ‘Alternative Arrangements’ to the Irish border backstop, in order to increase the chances of a Brexit deal being passed in the UK Parliament. The final version of the report is due to be released on 18 July.
Hands said that the AAC’s recommendations will take two to three years to implement but they can be agreed before the Brexit date on 31 October. Singham said that the AAC’s solution does not mean that nothing will change on the island of Ireland, but that it would ensure any changes do not result in checks at the border itself or damage the Good Friday Agreement. Meanwhile, Smyth said that from the EU’s point of view, only the backstop can solve the border issue and “Alternative Arrangements” are part of the mitigation of border issues rather than a solution in themselves.
An Executive Summary of the AAC’s report can be found here.