The Mayor and Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, will travel to Brussels next week to present European officials with a freshly completed report warning that a poorly managed Brexit has the potential of significantly affecting the border economy and society.
‘Brexit and the Border Corridor on the Island of Ireland: Risks, Opportunities and Issues to Consider,’ was jointly commissioned by 11 local authorities straddling the Irish border in March 2017.
Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee were advised this week that the research document, which has now been completed with the assistance of the Ulster Universirty, will be hand-delivered to the bureaucrats in Brussels by a delegation including the Mayor, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, and the council’s CEO John Kelpie next week.
Mr. Kelpie told committee members he was pleased the report was now complete and that the Derry/Strabane/Donegal area featured so prominently in it. Indeed, Derry is mentioned 16 times in the main body of the research document.
Mr. Kelpie said: “We very, very keen to see Derry and Strabane and the city region highlighted.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper praised those involved in the production of the study.
However, in reference to the report’s title, Colr. Cooper noted how the “opportunities are virtually non-existent.”
Colr. Cooper said predictions that a decrease in the value of the pound against the euro would boost Derry exporters, had been well off the mark.
“We have been promised exports due to the exchange rate ... that has not materialsied,” he claimed.
Colr. Cooper said special status for the North was the only means of ensuring Brexit does not adversely impact on the the lives of over a million people living along the border.
“The solution as far as Sinn Féin are concerned is special status and ultimately Irish unity,” said Colr. Cooper.
The report, which will be submitted next week, warns that “despite the fact that the Irish Border Corridor has received significant amounts of EU and other funding since the 1990s, it continues to lag behind national or regional averages in areas such as productivity and household incomes”.
It adds: “Forecasts for employment growth in the region out to 2026 mean that this outcome is likely, at best, to continue for the Corridor all things remaining equal.
“Given the current levels of cross-border codependency across the Local Authority areas, a poorly managed Brexit could mean economic outcomes where the region falls further behind. Thus the need not only for measures to mitigate against any negative impacts of Brexit, but also for the creation of solutions that ensure that future border management is actually as seamless as possible.”