Despite the DUP and NIO state of denial over the Irish Sea border, change is coming

Posted By: January 07, 2021


UK BBC won’t cover economies in the EU because Britain’s no longer in the EU, but we will remain in the EU single market


Brian Feeney. Irish News Belfast. Wednesday, January 6, 2021


The new Irish Sea border requires some re-orientation, some repositioning, not just for haulers and exporters, but also for the Unionist mindset which still prevails in The North’s civil service and the major broadcasting outlet here, the BBC.


Although the NIO and DUP are in denial and will continue to resist change, change is coming and will accelerate for some time in the future.


Let’s be more specific about it. Britain (or as BBCNI now like to say, “the rest of the UK”), will diverge from the EU in many ways; the faster the better for some Brexiteers. Future divergence will harden the sea border and the more the divergence the harder that border. Essentially what we have now (despite Arlene Foster’s obstinate pretense to the contrary) is a border between two single markets, the EU’s and GB’s. The North is no longer in GB’s single market.


We are subject to the EU customs union rules like it or not, deny it though Foster may. That means almost 300 EU legislative acts still apply. The European Court of Justice still has jurisdiction here for some matters. Most people in The North remain EU citizens with entitlement to freedom of movement and to be educated, work, and live in other EU states. The North can export freely to the Republic and any other EU state.


The EU is entitled by the protocol to supervise how their customs union rules, VAT, and excise are applied here. For example, no one is yet clear about whether and how chilled meat like sausages, ham, chicken and hamburgers, coming from GB will be dealt with, or how goods for supermarkets will be labeled. We’ve six months grace to find out.


Now, since Britain will diverge from EU rules not just because they want to, but also because EU rules will change, The North must follow those EU customs union rules dynamically. The more EU presence here and the more the EU exercises control, the more The North needs to be involved in EU decision making through the cat’s cradle of committees that have been created by the UK-EU trade deal.


For all those reasons it’s necessary to pay attention to what’s going on in the EU, something the UK BBC and BBCNI are very bad at. How BBCNI portrays what’s happening is important because it’s by far the largest media outlet in The North employing scores of people and has significant numbers of viewers and listeners for news and current affairs.


They need to look south. So, we need to be told what’s happening at Dublin port, not just at Larne or Belfast. We need to be told about delays at Holyhead, about the new Rosslare-Dunkirk shipping route. People and businesses don’t just go through northern ports or airports. UK BBC won’t cover economies in the EU because Britain’s no longer in the EU, but we will remain in the EU single market. Furthermore, since the majority of people here voted to stay in the EU and would want to remain in the EU, as EU citizens they have a right to expect the public service channel they pay their license fee for tells them about EU politics, events, and personalities. The majority of people here didn’t vote to go down a nativist English rabbit hole to examine their navels and watch shadows passing the entrance to their burrow.


How many people here could name a French politician other than Macron or a German one other than Merkel? Who could name the Spanish foreign minister who’s just made a deal with Gibraltar? Yet all those people are making decisions affecting the cost of food in the north and the rights of people living here.


As a major news outlet, BBCNI has a responsibility to inform people, not just provide a worm’s eye view.