The president of the European Commission within the European Union sided with the Irish government on Thursday, calling for an open border with Northern Ireland.
In a meeting in Brussels with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker expressed an agreement on the issues of border policy desires between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“We don’t want to have hard borders between Northern Ireland and the Republic [of Ireland],” said Juncker. “We want to have the Good Friday agreement not being put under risks, and we want land borders being as open as possible.”
Kenny believes that they can get a deal done to prevent the return to hard borders before UK leaves the EU.
“There should not be a return to a hard border and there won’t be,” said Kenny, who also stated that he wants to maintain “the closest possible relationship between the UK and the EU.”
Border controls were removed in 1998 by the Good Friday peace deal, but once the United Kingdom exits the EU it will become a controlled border again as Ireland would still be a part of the EU.
Back in June, a majority of voters in Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain in the EU, but the Leave campaign won the most votes overall throughout the UK as a result of immense support from England. This vote resulted in what will be the eventual exit of the entirety of the UK from the EU.
The European Commission and the Irish government intend to “work closely together during the whole process of the Brexit negotiations,” Juncker said.
Critics of the European Union have long posited that the EU’s open-border policy creates a lot of problems, the most notable of which being the fact that once you are able to enter one EU country, you can travel between them fluidly. The talk of an open border between an EU state and a non-EU state raises a lot of concern about the ability to enter and exit these countries at will.
Photo Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
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