In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Henry Farrell examines the implications of Ireland's northern border acting as the boundary between the United Kingdom and Europe in the wake of Brexit. The piece, "Brexit and the Norther Irish Border," asks, "will the U.K. remain in the EU customs union to preserve peace?"
Farrell dives into the complexity of the situation surrounding the EU, England, Ireland and Northern Ireland:
"The EU, too, wants to avoid a hard Irish border. It believes, however, that this can only be accomplished if London makes the necessary concessions to stay within the European Union’s customs union, or as close as makes no substantive difference. The United Kingdom’s vision of border controls, based not on customs posts and inspections but on technologies and procedures that can track the movement and quality of goods, appears hopelessly utopian and unfeasible. The EU has long and sometimes bitter experience with the ways in which administrative controls can be suborned by criminals and smugglers. Its value added tax system—which relies on a complex system of payments among firms—is notoriously vulnerable to manipulation through so-called carousel fraud, in which importers and exporters play complex games across member state borders to rip off tax authorities. Although Europe wants to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, it is not prepared to sacrifice what it sees as its core interests regarding regulation on trade to keep the United Kingdom happy."