Ireland is building alliances in the EU to create “The Bad Weather Club”
Ireland is going to have to get used to life without their neighbour in Brussels.
In 2016, the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union, and following three years of political convulsions there’s a palpable desire to move on from Brexit.
There’s been much chatter in Ireland regarding the effects Brexit will have on the border, a potential return to violence and the long-lasting economic effects that will ripple through the all-Ireland economy.
But there’s a pressing issue in Brussels for Ireland which will also require, and has been receiving, attention.
Ireland are losing someone from their corner in the EU with the loss of Britain, and the effects are being felt even now as the UK operate an empty chair policy in the EU by pulling UK officials from meetings.
With the weighted voting system by members of the EU, RTÉ’s Europe Editor Tony Connelly told JOE’s Ireland Unfiltered that Ireland has lost a key ally in Britain on issues like the Single Market and taxation.
"For key issues for Ireland like taxation, to have the UK at your side and the voting weight that the UK has - because you’ve got this weighted voting system based on population size – that’s a significant loss for Ireland,” Connelly said.
"What [Ireland] has been doing is they’ve been self-consciously building new alliances with countries like Denmark, the Netherlands and the Baltic countries. Countries that are like minded in terms of the Single Market, the services directive, a much more free market ideology and keeping the EU away from taxation.
"So they’ve been doing a lot of that bridge-building, they call it “The Bad Weather Club” which is basically the Baltics and Nordics and The Netherlands and so on.
“Again if you add all those countries up, you’re still getting quite a small voting bloc in the EU.”
Ireland is already at the forefront of a lot of minds in the EU due to the complexities of Brexit as Connelly outlined how the peculiar circumstances left diplomats and officials all over Europe pondering about the amount of milk powder in Artigarvan in Tyrone being transported to a processing plant in the south.
But this is the latest in a long line of incidences when the small country at the edge of the EU has commanded attention far beyond what we could have expected for our population and influence.
“For a very small country on the margins of Europe, we end up at the centre of things an awful lot, you know, with the Nice and Lisbon referendums, with the bailout and now with Brexit,” Connelly said.