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20 J. Common Mkt. Stud. 1 (1981-1982)

handle is hein.journals/jcmks20 and id is 1 raw text is: 



Journal of Common Market Studies
Volume XX, No.1  September 1981





                 'Northern Ireland:

               A European Role?'*

                          PAUL  HAINSWORTH
                 Lecturer in Politics, Ulster Polytechnic


Introduction:
Northern Ireland's problems are complex and multifarious. They have been
studied and  commented   upon  already from  innumerable  angles. This
article concentrates on one  comparatively novel  aspect, the interplay
between  Northern  Ireland and the European  Community.  A  number  of
initial questions may be posed. This brief assessment limits itself primarily to
three interdependent questions: How interested is the European Community
in Northern Ireland's affairs and, vice-versa, is the interest reciprocal? How
does Northern  Ireland fare as a peripheral, European region? To what
extent do cross-Border links reflect a European dimension.

The European  Dimension
British politicians have always treated the six counties of Northern Ireland
as a 'special' region of the United Kingdom. Some local difficulties are, no
doubt, familiar but worth recalling. A stranded, peripheral area in British
(and  European)  terms,  Northern  Ireland suffers due  to its narrow,
declining, industrial base; excessive unemployment levels; high prices -
especially energy, food and transportation costs; poor living and housing
standards; low wages and incomes; urban decay; infrastructural weakness;
etc. The 'troubles' accentuate these problems, particularly in such fields as
housing, unemployment   and infrastructure.
  British governments have consistently stumbled over the hurdle of too-
much-or-too-little involvement in Northern Ireland's affairs. With British
membership,  the European  Community   formally inherited this dilemma,
but follows suit in considering Northern Ireland to be a 'special' problem
region. Indeed, the Commission sees Northern Ireland as one of Europe's
high priority areas - on a par with Greenland, the Italian Mezzogiorno, the

*This article is a revised edition of a paper read at the Department of Politics, University of
Bristol, January 1981. rwould like to thank Dr Loukas Tsoukalis and an anonymous referee
for their helpful comments on the earlier drafts.

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