How Germany election could spell disaster for Brexit – particularly in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland protocol 'provides no protection' says Donaldson

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The Northern Ireland border continues to be a thorn in Boris Johnson’s side, threatening the success of the entire Brexit deal and risking a return to unrest in the region. With Germany heading to the polls on September 26, those at the top table could face some worrying disruptions if the outcome of the election is as expected.

Angela’s Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) looks all but certain to see its worst election results in half a century, according to widespread polling.

If this result manifests, it would see an already complex coalition government dissolved and renegotiated.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Economist Intelligence’s Principal Economist and German analyst, Emily Mansfield, said: “The German election is set to lead to a highly fragmented result, with no party winning much more than a quarter of the vote.

“Negotiations to form a coalition will therefore be difficult, probably bringing together three parties, rather than two, for the first time at the federal level.”

Current polling suggests the Social Democrats (SPD) are on course to lead as the party with the biggest share, polling at 26 percent, followed by the CDU on 22 percent and the Greens on 16 percent.

Ms Mansfield said: “These coalition talks could take quite a while – potentially some months – during which Germany will have a caretaker government. During this time EU policymaking is likely to slow.”

This will be compounded by the fact that France will begin looking to its upcoming election in 2022.

But, with the UK no longer a member of the EU, how could this affect Brexit?

Ms Mansfield said: “The lack of permanent leadership in Germany in the coming months, combined with increased electoral pressure in France, will limit the ability of the bloc to engage effectively with the UK if the ongoing disputes over Northern Ireland flare up, or if implementation of the UK’s new post-Brexit commitments lead to more controversy.”

This could not come at a worse time for the Northern Ireland issue, with tensions over the US-UK-Australia (Aukus) submarine deal snowballing.

This week, France issued a warning that negotiations to amend the border protocol would be hurt by the row, which saw France lose out on a multi-billion euro security deal with Australia.

French Europe minister Clément Beaune said that trust in Britain had already been damaged by Brexit, and warned the EU would need to rebuild confidence before a deal could be struck over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Beaune, speaking at a meeting of EU Europe ministers in Brussels, said: “We see when we look at the Brexit agreements that are not well implemented, that are not fully respected, we see it with the Aukus project.

“There were some hidden things. So it’s not the best context to have trust between us.”

What exactly is the problem with the border?

The Northern Ireland border with the Republic of Ireland is the only land border the UK shares with the EU.

With decades of unfettered trade while the UK was an EU member, this posed huge problems in negotiating a deal that would take the UK out of the EU single market but preserve the livelihoods of millions.

The protocol agreed aimed to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

Under this agreement, Northern Ireland is kept in the EU’s single market for goods.

This means goods don’t have to be checked as they cross the Irish border, instead, some checks and controls are required on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

This has caused difficulties for some businesses and is opposed by unionist parties in Northern Ireland, which say it undermines Northern Ireland’s constitutional position as part of the UK and creates a border in the Irish sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

In July the UK published a “command paper” proposing radical changes to the protocol but the EU says it will not renegotiate.

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