The UK government is committed to holding a referendum before the end of 2017 on whether the United Kingdom should remain in or leave the European Union (EU). Voters will be motivated by a range of issues, many of which are being openly debated, particularly in the media, among politicians and by the various campaigning groups that now exist.
Regionally, in Northern Ireland, the debate on whether to vote to remain in or leave the EU has barely begun. Yet debate is needed, not least because the arguments presented at a UK level tend to overlook the regional dimension. Regionally-focused debate is needed, and particularly so in Northern Ireland, given its unique geographical location in the UK of bordering another EU member state. The implications of remaining in and of leaving the EU have regional dimensions that need to be identified and debated.
This purpose of this briefing paper is to contribute to that process of identifying and debating the implications for Northern Ireland of remaining in or leaving the EU. It does not present arguments for either side. Instead it raises questions around a range of topics that it is believed need to be considered in advance of the referendum. The paper does not claim to be comprehensive in terms of the topics covered or the questions raised. It is designed instead as an initial foray into identifying the issues and questions that should inform debate. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion and to provoke others into identifying the issues they want considered and the questions they want asked and answered in advance of the referendum.
The briefing paper has been compiled by a team of academics from the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and from the Department of Government at University College Cork (UCC).¹