Changing the status of the Irish border to an external boundary between the UK and the EU was always going to be difficult to manage. Both the UK and the EU shared the objective of avoiding a hard border but finding the means of doing so proved to be a complex technical and diplomatic challenge. Whilst the withdrawal negotiations continued, concerns grew among those who would be most directly affected. Despite a history of conflict and underdevelopment, the Irish border region had become one of the most successfully integrated in the world. This only increased the potential price to be paid for Brexit by those living and working there. Successful cross-border development depends on the conditions for, and habits of, cooperation fostered ‘on the ground’. The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the Withdrawal Agreement brings some assurance about maintaining the conditions of north/south cooperation. Nonetheless, the UK/EU border problem that falls on Northern Ireland will persist as a topic in perpetual need of political sensitivity and accommodation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-105
JournalAnnales des Mines
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2020


  • Brexit
  • Irish border
  • Work
  • Cross-border
  • European integration


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