Brexit – An Irish perspective.
The initial thought that arises when writing about Brexit from an Irish viewpoint for a European audience is that the writer must not bore the reader with a detailed summary of Irish history. But, since much of the Irish perspective on Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union is linked to our ties with Great Britain, our nearest neighbour, some facts and background details are necessary.
Size and population
Ireland is an island with a total area of 84.000 km2 and a population of 6.8 million. On the island are two separate states. Northern Ireland has an area of 14.000 km² and a population of 1,9 million. In size, it is comparable with Schleswig-Holstein which is approx 15% larger. In population, it is comparable with Thüringen whose population is 15% greater. The Irish Republic is five times greater with area of 70,000 km² and a population of 4,9 million. It is almost the same size as Bavaria but its population is just 80% of Hessen. Their two capitals – Belfast (Northern Ireland) and Dublin (Irish Republic) are 160 kms apart, or two hours by road.
Ireland (The Irish Republic) is the 30th largest economy in the world. In 2019, our exports were €153bn – €73bn (48%) to the EU and €14bn (9%) to the UK. In 2019, our imports were €89bn – €61bn (69%) from the EU and €19bn (21%) from the UK. Despite the UK’s proximity and our similarities in language, legal system and culture, our membership of the EU from 1973 has enabled us to diversify our trade connections.