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Ireland Cost of Irish reunification would not be 'disastrous' according to a new economic assessment

11:25  18 february  2020
11:25  18 february  2020 Source:   independent.ie

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Questions over UK debt mean Irish reunification could come at a high economic price. If we did not use cookies, you would be required to enter your login details every time you visited our site or navigated to a new page because we would not be able to remember that you had already logged in.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JANUARY 31: Anti Brexit protestors carry signs outside Stormont calling for a border poll on January 31, 2020 in Belfast, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union tonight at 11pm GMT following the referendum held in 2016. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JANUARY 31: Anti Brexit protestors carry signs outside Stormont calling for a border poll on January 31, 2020 in Belfast, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union tonight at 11pm GMT following the referendum held in 2016. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images) THE COST of reunification would not be "disastrous" for Ireland, according to a new economic assessment.

The budget costs of a united Ireland would be large, but may come in lower than many are forecasting.

Consultancy Capital Economics said in a report published yesterday that there were potentially large offsets if the annual subvention from London were to be replaced under unification.

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Unification has emerged as a key issue following Sinn Féin's strong showing in the recent elections.

Motorists pass an Anti Brexit poster close to the Irish border, beside the town of Newry, Northern Ireland, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. While Britain formally left the EU at 11 p.m. local time Friday, the hard work of building a new economic relationship between the bloc and its ex-member has just begun. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) © Catalyst Images Motorists pass an Anti Brexit poster close to the Irish border, beside the town of Newry, Northern Ireland, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. While Britain formally left the EU at 11 p.m. local time Friday, the hard work of building a new economic relationship between the bloc and its ex-member has just begun. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Fiscal transfers from the rest of the UK to the North ran at £9.4bn (€11.3bn) in the 2018/19 fiscal, a figure that implies either huge budget cuts for the Belfast Government or a very rapid rise in the State’s deficit.

The consultancy says that the burden might not be as high as these figures suggest and notes that the North’s budget deficit fell by 2pc of its gross domestic product, a fall that is equivalent to 0.3pc of the State’s GDP.

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“What’s more, the Republic is currently running a small budget surplus, so even if there were a sudden move into deficit, the implications for the public finances would not be disastrous," said Jack Allen-Reynolds, Senior Europe Economist at the firm.

“And it’s also possible that the UK would continue to make payments to the North for a while even after reunification, in order to ease the transition,” he said in the report.

NEWRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - JANUARY 31: Damian McGenity (L) and Declan Fearon (R) from the Border Communities Against Brexit protest group pictured carry an anti Brexit billboard as they cross the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on January 31, 2020 in Newry, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union tonight at 11pm GMT following the referendum held in 2016. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images NEWRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - JANUARY 31: Damian McGenity (L) and Declan Fearon (R) from the Border Communities Against Brexit protest group pictured carry an anti Brexit billboard as they cross the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on January 31, 2020 in Newry, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union tonight at 11pm GMT following the referendum held in 2016. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The costing of any reunification is controversial, with Sinn Féin, saying that it is overstated considerably in most studies, although the party’s own estimate that it could cost as little as £2.7bn was dubbed “false” by Eufactcheck, t he fact-checking arm of the European Journalism Training Association.

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Traditional estimates run at around £24.1bn.

The Capital Economics study said that the Northern Irish economy could be given a substantial boost if its tax rate were cut from 19pc to the State’s 12.5pc.

“So reunification, with the North cutting corporate taxes and adopting the Republic’s regulatory regime, could help it to close the gap in per capita incomes,” it said.

Protesters from the campaign group Border Communities Against Brexit take part in a demonstration in Carrickcarnon on the Irish border, Ireland, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain officially leaves the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) © Catalyst Images Protesters from the campaign group Border Communities Against Brexit take part in a demonstration in Carrickcarnon on the Irish border, Ireland, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Britain officially leaves the European Union on Friday after a debilitating political period that has bitterly divided the nation since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Another key issue is the share of UK public debt would be adopted by Ireland.

Capital Economics said that if the North took on none of the UK’s existing public debt, but Irish GDP rose as the North and Republic combined, the debt ratio would decline from 68pc to about 58pc, while if the North took on a proportion of UK debt based on its share of the UK population, a united Ireland’s debt ratio would be 75pc.

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“In both scenarios though, the debt ratio looks manageable, so arrangements for dividing up the debt would not have much of an effect on a united Ireland’s economic performance,” Mr Allen-Reynolds wrote.

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