The Northern Ireland Farm Groups have suggested that the UK could become an associate member of the EU once Brexit occurs.
The Group, which includes Farmers for Action UK NI (FFA) and Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers (NIAPA) pointed out that an associate member of the EU does not pay money into the EU, nor does it receive any.
A spokesperson added: “In short, this solution would tick the boxes for the many GB voters who voted to leave on an immigration and financial issue and it would also tick the boxes for those across the UK who voted to remain part of the EU.”
NIAPA and FFA as members of Fairness for Farmers in Europe (FFE) have worked closely with Manx NFU and seven other farm organisations across these islands since 2006, therefore, it has been common knowledge amongst FFE members of the Isle of Man’s associate membership of the EU under Protocol 3 via the UK as a full member. However, as the UK leaves the EU the Isle of Man and indeed similar EU arrangements in the Channel Isles will come to an end.
According to William Taylor NI Farm Groups co-ordinator: “During a recent meeting NIAPA, FFA and Manx NFU had a detailed discussion about the out-workings of Protocol 3 and its associate membership status for the Isle of Man, after which the Manx NFU were kind enough to forward the relevant EU information.
“The conclusion is as follows – there would appear to be no good reason why the UK including the Isle of Man could not be associate members of the EU under Protocol 3 via Southern Ireland (or indeed France, Holland or another suitable EU members state).
“It would in effect solve one of the biggest problems of leaving the EU, the North South Irish border or equally as important the only UK land border potentially with the EU27 by allowing us to participate in the Customs Union, thus solving the border issue reference trade with the EU.
“Furthermore, on the issue of immigration and free travel the Isle of Man would appear to be in full control of this in a commonsense way, therefore, by mirroring the IOM’s current agreement with the EU on immigration and free travel this should also simplify border issues for north and south Ireland/UK/EU land border.”