Another fallout from Brexit. The island of Ireland as a whole is heavily reliant on energy from Great Britain. The Republic and the North have constituted one single energy market ever since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
This market constitutes an energy island save for just two underwater power links, both of which go to Great Britain. Most of Ireland’s oil and gas imports come from the UK.
There is no prospect of gas or electricity ceasing flowing between the UK and Ireland, because energy trading isn’t something that depends on EU membership. But the EU does govern the rules and standards around such flows, and that’s what is causing concern in Dublin.
For instance, if the British government really does deliver on its threats to diverge on energy usage standards, it could get a lot harder to trade energy between them. It may also become difficult to address short-term shortages if the energy regulators are not cooperating as they used to through EU bodies.
Complications would also arise if disputes between the two regulators emerge, because given the UK’s obduracy, those disputes could no longer be resolved by the European Court of Justice.
Because of this, state-owned utility EirGrid has pressed the European Commission for EU funding for a planned €930 million underwater electricity link across the Celtic Sea to France. This would enhance European energy connections: the project is a joint venture between EirGrid and French utility RTE.
“It’s a project of common interest and a project of enormous strategic importance to an island nation which post-Brexit, is not connected to Europe,” warns EirGrid CEO Mark Foley. Quite so.