Study explores how Scotland and Northern Ireland can fulfil aspirations post-Brexit

November 13, 2017

Significant changes to both the current UK and European Union (EU) constitutional frameworks are "almost unavoidable" in order to accommodate the very different aspirations of Scotland and Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

In the referendum of June 2016, people in England and Wales voted to leave the EU, while those in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. There has since been debate about how to achieve the continuing presence in the single market of the UK constituent nations when their political leaders have declared that they do not wish to be taken out of the EU against their will.

In a new study, Dr Nikos Skoutaris of the University of East Anglia (UEA) explores two options for Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain in the EU and/or the single market. Writing in the Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies, he argues that the EU has the necessary legal mechanisms to accommodate their differing aspirations.

The first option involves the achievement of Scottish independence and the reunification of Ireland through democratic referendums. However, Dr Skoutaris says that while Northern Ireland enjoys such a constitutional right, Scotland would have to reach an arrangement similar to the one that led to the organisation of the 2014 independence referendum.

The second option would see Scotland and Northern Ireland remaining in the EU and/or the single market even without leaving the UK. Dr Skoutaris, a lecturer in EU law, reviews previous examples of territorial differentiation including Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Cyprus, showing there are a number of legally defensible solutions that would enable this to happen.

Dr Skoutaris said: "Especially with regard to Northern Ireland, such imaginative solutions can better protect the fragile peace process and the social and economic integration of the island of Ireland."

If England and Wales withdraw from the single market and the customs union while Scotland and Northern Ireland remain, it would entail the existence of a customs border and border checks within the territory of the UK.

In addition, a major constitutional amendment to the devolution arrangement would have to take place in order for both regions to take part effectively in the political and constitutional life of the EU and the European Economic Area.

While acknowledging the significant changes that such an arrangement would make to the constitutional status quo of the UK, Dr Skoutaris suggests that for the Government, the biggest incentive to offer this option to Scotland and Northern Ireland is that it represents a tangible alternative to leaving the UK.

"The UK might become almost a confederation but it would still be one recognised State under international law," said Dr Skoutaris. "In other words, it could save the Union. The devolved administrations could also avoid the tensions and divisions that would be caused if they were to leave the UK. In particular, such a solution presents fewer threats to the fragile Belfast Agreement than Brexit itself or a referendum for the reunification of Ireland.

"Even if neither the UK nor the devolved administrations opt for such an arrangement, it could still prove useful. It could be used transitionally until there is a renegotiation and a resettlement of the constitutional status of those two nations, ensuring that they do not find themselves outside the single market even for a minute.

"In any case, both the current UK and EU constitutional frameworks somehow seem to be unable to accommodate the very different aspirations of the UK constituent nations. In this sense, their significant amendment is almost unavoidable."
-end-
'Territorial differentiation in EU law: can Scotland and Northern Ireland remain in the EU and/or the single market?', Nikos Skoutaris, is published in the Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies.

University of East Anglia

Related Accommodate Articles from Brightsurf:

The five phases of pandemic care for primary care
The authors present a roadmap for necessary primary care practice transformations to care for patients and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wake Forest Baptist shares key elements needed in setting up designated COVID-19 unit
In an effort to rapidly provide specialized care for patients with coronavirus-like symptoms while protecting the safety of health care workers, doctors at Wake Forest Baptist Health created a special respiratory isolation unit from an existing 24-bed medical-surgical unit in the hospital in Winston-Salem.

Biophysics -- lifting the lid on beta-barrels
The interaction between biotin and streptavidin is a well-established experimental tool in bionanotechnology.

How to break new records in the 200 metres?
Usain Bolt's 200m record has not been beaten for ten years and Florence Griffith Joyner's for more than thirty years.

Size-adjustable prosthetic heart valve accommodates heart growth in sheep
Taking a step towards a major goal in heart valve prosthetics, scientists have created an adaptable heart valve replacement that can be expanded over time as the heart grows.

Ancient Greek tholos-like architecture composed of archaeal proteins
Collaborative research groups discovered a unique supramolecular structure composed of hyperthermophilic archaeal proteins.

Does flexible work 'work' for Aussie parents?
An Australian study examining the relationship between flexibility and parent health has revealed formal family-friendly workplace provisions alone are not meeting the demands of working mothers and fathers.

Supercharging tomorrow: Monash develops world's most efficient lithium-sulfur battery
Monash University researchers are on the brink of commercializing the world's most efficient lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery, which could outperform current market leaders by more than four times, and power Australia and other global markets well into the future.

'Nanochains' could increase battery capacity, cut charging time
A new method could allow better materials to make up battery electrodes by converting them into a nanochain structure, extending battery lifetime and increasing stability.

Experiencing awe from science influences beliefs about God
Though many Americans perceive science and religion as incompatible, a study from the ASU Department of Psychology found how people engage with science can change how they think about God -- and even promote belief in God.

Read More: Accommodate News and Accommodate Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.