What Happened: The United Kingdom and Ireland have signed a deal to maintain their common travel area, ensuring that their citizens will still have the right to work and travel in each other's countries in the case of a hard Brexit, the Financial Times reported May 8.
Why It Matters: The deal will help preserve some degree of normalcy in Irish-British relations regardless of what happens with the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union. However, the agreement covers only the free movement of people. Thus, the exchange of goods and services between the two countries remains contingent upon the United Kingdom's future relationship with the European Union, leaving open the possibility a "hard" border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Background: British and Irish officials have negotiating the agreement since 2017. The deal also includes reciprocal rights to vote in local and national parliamentary elections in each other's jurisdictions, as well as access to social security benefits, health services and education for citizens of both countries.
- A New Brexit Countdown: What the U.K. Could Do Before Oct. 31 (May 6, 2019)
- Is the IRA Back? (April 23, 2019)
- UK: What an Irish Border Vote Means for May (Jan. 29, 2019)