Brexit could undermine efforts to forge strong relations between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland if special care is not taken, the House of Lords has warned today.
The House of Lords EU Committee is calling on those involved in the impending Brexit talks, including the UK government and other EU institutions, to be wary of the special relationship between the UK and Ireland, and warned that any Brexit-related downturn in the UK economy could well be magnified in the Irish economy.
In particular, the peers caution care must be given to how any customs checks between the two nations are implemented and travel freedoms must be maintained, and call on the UK and Irish governments to pull together a draft bilateral agreement ahead of the final EU Brexit deal being signed.
A report produced by the committee notes that the two nations currently engage in around €60bn (£50.4bn) of cross-border trade while 40 per cent of Irish food and drink exports head to the UK.
"Both the UK and Irish governments desperately want to avoid a return to hard borders," said Lord Boswell, chair of the House of Lords EU Committee. "But the Republic of Ireland will remain in the EU, and any agreement to allow an open border to remain will have to be agreed by all the other EU member states. That's not a given....Closer UK-Irish relations and stability in Northern Ireland are too important to put at risk as collateral damage of the Brexit decision."