PRESS RELEASE: EM Ireland survey shows support across Europe for Ireland as a unique case in the Brexit negotiations

90% of European organisations surveyed support the view that Ireland is a unique case in the upcoming Brexit negotiations

Dublin, 16 February 2017:  In advance of the government’s All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dublin Castle tomorrow, Friday 17 February, which European Movement Ireland (EM Ireland) will be participating in, and following the Taoiseach’s keynote Brexit address, EM Ireland conducted a survey on Brexit among our European partners.  The survey results show considerable support among our European partners for Ireland as a unique case and most of the government’s priorities in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.  However, the survey sees significantly lower levels of recognition and support for Ireland being in an economically exceptional position as a result of Brexit.

With just over a month before UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s self-imposed deadline to trigger Article 50 and formally begin the process of the UK leaving the EU, EM Ireland conducted a survey among European Movement International organisations in more than 35 countries across the EU and Europe more widely.  Views were garnered on Ireland’s priorities, as well as priorities in different European countries, as the UK prepares to negotiate its exit from the EU.

The survey results showed that:

  • 90% of responding organisations support the view that Ireland is a unique case in the Brexit negotiations;
  • 90% of responding organisations support the Irish government’s priority of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, including border issues;
  • 90% of responding organisations support the government’s priority of the future of the EU;
  • More than 85% of responding organisations support the government’s priority of the Common Travel Area;
  • However, support dropped to around 70% when organisations were asked if they supported the government’s priority to preserve the close economic trading relationship between Ireland and the UK, declining further to around 60% when UK survey responses were excluded.
  • Top Brexit priorities for other countries were the economic and trading relationship between the UK and the EU, the status of EU and EEA citizens in the UK and freedom of movement, and resisting anti-EU sentiment.

Interestingly, only 52% of responding organisations said that they considered Brexit to be the top EU priority in their respective country.

EM Ireland Reaction

Commenting on the survey results today, EM Ireland Executive Director, Noelle O Connell, welcomed the high levels of support for and recognition of Ireland’s unique exposure to Brexit, saying, “Our survey shows a clear understanding at a European level of the challenging situation Ireland finds itself in as a consequence of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.  This is particularly clear in terms of Northern Ireland, the border and the Common Travel Area.  It is clear that efforts being undertaken at a political, official, business and civic level have been well received and that progress is being made on engaging with our European partners, which is something that EM Ireland greatly welcomes.  However, a long road ahead remains and this is no time to rest on our laurels.”

Commenting on the lower levels of support for Ireland’s economic priorities, Ms O Connell added that “given the short time frame before Article 50 is likely to be triggered, we need to articulate more actively than ever the hugely damaging ramifications Brexit could have on the economy from an all-island perspective.  Reports have shown that Ireland could be more adversely affected than even the UK in the event of a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ and our survey underlies the work that needs to be done to further convince our European colleagues of Ireland’s special position in this regard too”.

On the findings that Brexit is not a top priority in many other European countries, Ms O Connell noted, “it is important for us to remember that economic, security and migration issues are crucial for other EU Member States.  The UK’s forthcoming departure from the EU has highlighted the importance of cooperation, understanding and engagement among the remaining 27 EU Member States.  Ireland has a voice in reshaping what type of EU we want to remain part of post-Brexit.  It is imperative that we use it”, Ms O Connell concluded.






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