Belfast waterfront with EU Stars

The Contagion of Uncertainty: The Protocol on Ireland & Northern Ireland and the EU Withdrawal Agreement

Contagion of Uncertainty evidences business sectors' growing unease with Brexit. Those voices are brought together within this report from across Ireland and the UK. This report argues that it is time to move beyond the politics of Brexit and in so doing start to understand and respond to the ever-growing uncertainty within business. We need to start talking about jobs, investment and trade.

‘We are in limbo because we're being asked by our customers how to prepare. I can't tell them that because I don't know, the government doesn't know, trade bodies don't know.’

Pamela Dennison, National Officer for the Chartered Institute of Transport & Logistics


Download the The Protocol on Ireland & Northern Ireland and the EU Withdrawal Agreement: The Contagion of Uncertainty report.

The Brexit process is set to conclude with insufficient information required to make investment decisions and an increasing contagion of uncertainty.

The timing, preparedness, and capacity to remove uncertainty lacks the same foresight of the arrangements put in place to create the Single European Act. If political leadership and clarity is not forthcoming it is of paramount importance that the sectors influence policy-making, provide evidence of issues that concern them and assert their extensive knowledge of investment, job creation and growth.

Brexit is presently:

  • A contagion of uncertainty within the business community that has affected investment and planning strategies. These concerns need to be answered and resolved during UK-EU negotiations.
  • It is understood that the North-South trade dimension was researched by the UK and EU at least in part at the request of the Irish Government. There does not appear to have been equivalent research on East-West trade even though that relationship features prominently within the B/GFA and on-going Brexit negotiations.
  • Businesses are thinking about the economic, trade and commercial impact of Brexit upon North-South, East-West and continuing EU trade. They would prefer to see a focus on the practicalities rather than the politics of Brexit.
  • Business also wish to see in depth consultation on the practicalities of what arrangements would be put in place and the potential disruption and resulting additional costs to their supply chains and cross border operations.  
  • Great Britain businesses have noted that they may withdraw from the Northern Ireland market and supply chains due to administrative costs and potentially divergent standards and ethics of production.
  • There needs to be precise research on the impact of Brexit upon Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland given its unique set of emerging trading relationships/structures/governance arrangements regarding business and economic activity. This must be put in place in response to  unique conditions including agreement by all parties to protect the peace process. (See 'Programme for Government: Our Shared Future' report)
  • UK immigration policy may undermine migration into Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Executive should immediately begin to respond to the potential impact of that policy.

Download the full The Protocol on Ireland & Northern Ireland and the EU Withdrawal Agreement: The Contagion of Uncertainty report.

This report was authored by Professor Peter Shirlow, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies and Michael D’Arcy, Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Cross Border Studies.

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