The reorganization of Ireland is one of the most complex and politically sensitive issues in Europe. It has not been on the agenda for years, but Brexit has put it back at the center of the debate. Northern Ireland will celebrate its centenary in May 2021, but its future is very uncertain.
Votes in Northern Ireland show a steady tendency to increase support for Irish unity, with differences between supporters and opponents approaching the error rate for the first time. Lucid Talk April 2021 Survey Sunday time Support for a “yes” to Irish unity remained at 43%, 49% and 49%.
The sensitivity of the issue to many unilateralists (those who wish to remain in the UK) is that they are not unilaterally prepared for the consequences of a possible referendum known as a border referendum. The Irish government was also reluctant to take the case further.
Not to mention that politics and culture are major issues, but so is economic dignity. If Northern Ireland and Ireland become one country, integrating their economies will be complex and expensive, at least initially.
There is no peace dividend
Although the two share a relatively small island, the Irish and Northern Irish economies have followed very different paths throughout history.
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Northern Ireland’s economy was more developed and industrialized, but the Republic’s economy moved forward and Northern Ireland relied heavily on the British government to cover its annual budget deficit.
“It has long been clear that Northern Ireland’s economy is doing well,” Edgar Morganroth, a professor of economics at Dublin City University, told DW.
He added that the Northern Irish economy had not received a peaceful dividend since the 1998 Good Friday peace deal. In his view, the lack of investment favored the type of investment in education, business development and infrastructure that contribute to economic development. It only supports living standards and income.
“Northern Ireland needs more public housing than anywhere else in the UK,” he said. There are more people making disability payments and social benefits. Most of the money goes into people’s lives, and very little of the economy develops. “
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This leads to a huge Euro 10 billion ($ 12.3 billion) question that needs to be answered at the outset of any discussion of Irish unity: the amount the UK Treasury sends annually to Northern Ireland to address the decline in sales.
“Northern Ireland’s economy is entirely dependent on subsidies from London,” Morganroth said. “If this subsidy is included in the Dublin budget, it will seriously affect the macroeconomic sustainability of employees.”
Ireland was partitioned in 1921, leaving six provinces in the northeastern part of the island part of the United Kingdom.
In the Republic of Ireland, the vote shows strong and consistent support for Irish unity, often above 70%. However, when people are asked if they are willing to pay higher taxes, that number drops significantly.
Morganroth believes that reliance on Northern Ireland’s budget support will not be sustainable if Irish unity becomes a reality. “Something has to be given,” he said. “But that means removing subsidies from certain things, which will affect the living standards of the people and will never be normal.”
He believes the European Union, which has long supported the peace process, may be ready to step in with the necessary financial assistance.
Lessons from Germany
Another perspective is that despite these budget problems, Irish unity will enable the island’s economic dynamics to grow rapidly and move in a different direction. Two studies, led by Kurt Hubbner, a professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, found that Irish integration would have strong positive effects on the economies of all islands.
Although the study requires policy interventions from a unified Irish government, he believed that unification would particularly change the northern Irish economy, primarily by attracting FDI and creating efficiency through mergers.
Habner and Morganroth were German natives who were widely involved in the German reorganization. They say their example should provide remarkable lessons as Irish loneliness rises.
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Morganroth argues that German unification cost the country 1 1 trillion long ago, but the idea is still supported there. But he says the country has 30 years of economic integration and will have to prepare for a long road similar to that of United Ireland.
Hubner said Ireland had an advantage over Germany. In principle, there was more time to prepare for the reorganization. He is convinced that Irish immigration will make more sense than the current situation.
“From a purely financial point of view, the association can be more supportive,” he said. In addition to political logic, purely economic logic is moving in the direction of unification. There is no doubt about it.
A country disappears
It is difficult to answer the question of what a unified Ireland would look like, which means that it is very difficult to develop an accurate model of a unified economy.
The main problems are the level of social benefits to which the state contributes pension and the strategic problem of the health system.
Problems such as the economy in Northern Ireland can be solved on a tribal or political basis. However, Alex Kane, a political commentator who previously worked for the Ulster Union Party, believes that Brexit has brought about fundamental political change.
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He told the DWW: “This does not mean it is so. [former unionist voters] You will vote for United Ireland. However, this meant that they were uneasy in some aspects of the unions. “
He believes that Brexit will push many to reunite Ireland through unprecedented economic arguments and the possibility of rejoining the European Union.
Although he admits that economics plays a small role in the question of further confusing identity.
“Even some unionists who may be able to navigate the economy … Leaving your country is a big psychological challenge.”