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"He [M. Marnier]said the EU's goal was to protect the Good Friday peace agreement,..."

He should mind his own business. The GF Agreement is a bilateral agreement between the UK and Ireland. It has nothing to do with the EU.
^although it is an agreememt involving two member states, one of whom is seeking to leave the EU, so it depends whether Ireland welcomes their interest, is not bothered or would tell them keep their noses out
It’s everyone’s business to ensure peace in Europe.
But more pertinently, whatever the EU says or in particular does can have a big impact on the agreement. For example they have it in their power to enforce customs checks etc on the island of Ireland, and that would definitely be a threat to it.
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TBH I think Grannie has already been eaten.
I expect the EU is behind them, as long as they do as they're told.
Eire is overwhelmingly committed to membership of the EU and that sets the scene regarding sentiment toward Brexit. After a no-deal Brexit (if it happens) the border issue becomes an even greater imperative, even a crisis issue, than during/while there is any (however faint) hope that a solution will be found. At that point the UK is not in practice likely to be a useful ally (assuming it usually was) any more, so having the EU remaining as one has to be good news - Eire will not want to face the consequences of Brexit on its own, and there certainly will be consequences. That sort of assessment will sit particularly badly with those who think the UK dictates realities both within and outside the EU (or at least should do) and particularly on the island of Ireland.
No one is dictating realities, but realities do get pointed out.
If one wishes to retain an open border the ball was ever in the EU court. Once the UK leaves the EU it can only keep it's side open.
The UK wants to change its Customs arrangements with the EU. By definition, that requires border controls; otherwise, the new customs rules and new trading arrangements that follow cannot be enforced. So no, we can't keep a unilateral open border. It isn't in our interests to do so if we want to separate economically from the EU.

This isn't difficult.
But once again, nobody has any intention of implementing a border in Ireland. That has been confirmed by the UK, Ireland and the EU. And that lack of intent applies whether the UK remains in the EU or leaves it (with or without a deal). That's what is not difficult and what is similarly not difficult is that ways will have to be developed, without a hard border, to collect the four pounds nineteen and sixpence that might be due annually
Those ways do not exist yet. And intention will have to face up to the reality of law at some point.
As a similar situation, all sides (at least the leaders) have stated numerous times that they have no intention of allowing a No Deal scenario. But if the UK refuses to accept the Withdrawal Agreement, and if it refuses to revoke Article 50, if the EU and UK fail to come to any other agreement, and if the EU Council and UK also fail to agree on the length and terms of an extension, then a No Deal is inevitable. Whether or not sides "intend" otherwise will be neither here nor there if they don't take the necessary steps to implement that.

A Hard Border on Ireland is the same. Intentions will mean nothing if the legal situation forces their hands; and, as that is what diverging Customs arrangements imply, then a Hard Border in NI can't be avoided merely by wishing it away.
> what is similarly not difficult is that ways will have to be developed, without a hard border, to collect the four pounds nineteen and sixpence that might be due annually

The concept that ways will have to be developed is not difficult. The development of those ways is much more difficult.

Surely the biggest problem with an open border is the unrestricted migration opportunities (in both directions) that it provides. How will these "ways" stop that?
No need. The opportunity already exists and isn't used so why would it in future ?
Yes it is used now. It's not illegal now as we're in the EU. Having an open border to people when you can fly from anywhere in Europe to Dublin for about £40 means that we will not have taken back control of our borders and our immigration.
Illegal immigrant isn't legal while we are in the EU.
Right now, people are able to fly from let's say Bucharest to Dublin, drive up to Belfast and take a ferry to Birkenhead. The only places they would show their passport would be Bucharest and Dublin. Are you happy for that to continue after we leave the EU?
"Surely the biggest problem with an open border is the unrestricted migration opportunities (in both directions) that it provides. How will these "ways" stop that?"

They won't and there is no need.

"Right now, people are able to fly from let's say Bucharest to Dublin, drive up to Belfast and take a ferry to Birkenhead. The only places they would show their passport would be Bucharest and Dublin. Are you happy for that to continue after we leave the EU?"

Yes. I accept an open border in Ireland. I don't necessarily agree with it but I understand the history and it long pre-dates the EU. But in fact there will be no need for our Romanian friends to take such a circuitous route post-Brexit. If they arrive in Dublin with a valid passport they will be admitted. If they arrive at Gatwick with a valid passport they will be admitted. The entry requirements to the UK and to Ireland are broadly similar; those with the required papers will be admitted (to either); those without will be denied entry (to either). Illegal immigrants (either from Romania or anywhere else) do not currently make their way to the UK via Ireland on a widespread basis and there is no reason to believe that they will post Brexit. It's much easier to simply steal a boat and ring up the Dover coastguard to tow you in.

The big difference Brexit will make is that at present our Romanian friends have the right to live, work, receive benefits and free healthcare here. Post (proper) Brexit they will not have that right. Whether they arrive via Gatwick or Dublin/Belfast/Birkenhead will make no difference.
Two problems with that, NJ:

1) You assume continued alignment of the rules in Dublin and Gatwick ("The entry requirements to the UK and to Ireland are broadly similar")
2) You have subjugated control of our borders to a foreign power - Dublin. This is not "taking back control".

Would you be equally happy to allow people to board a ferry or the Channel Tunnel from France and flow into the UK? I doubt it. This demonstrates that your position is reliant on the relatively small numbers of unwanted immigrants in Ireland remaining relatively small.

France is a different situation. They aren't potentially going to start terrorist atrocities on the English south coast if the border across the English Channel isn't open. And there is no subjugated control when two nations agree something. You are describing situations that don't exist.

I don't quite understand.

The entry requirements to the UK and Ireland are very unlikely to diverge. The UK has always (well for almost 100 years) been happy to allow free movement of people from Ireland. That situation did not change when we joined the EU and will not change when we leave. The "Common Travel Area" is an arrangement with which the UK is content and has been for many years. It is under the UK's control because it is subject to a bilateral agreement between the participants. It can be ended by the UK if it wishes but of course it won't be so ended because the Good Friday agreement (again a bilateral agreement between the participants) precludes it. None of this has anything to do with EU membership and our leaving simply restores the situation to that which prevailed before we joined.

The freedom of movement facility which EU membership demands cannot be so ended (without leaving the bloc). The UK does not control it and it is not subject to scrutiny or review by the UK Parliament. The two situations are simply not comparable. "Controlling our borders" does not mean closing our borders. It means controlling them as we see fit and we see fir to allow free movement in Ireland.

I would not be happy to see people arrive unchecked from France because France has foolishly abandoned its borders under the ridiculous Schengen Agreement (which Ireland has not). The eastern land border into France is effectively with upwards of seven or eight countries which include Russia, Turkey, Albania Belarus and the Ukraine. Anybody crossing into the EU from those nations can move unfettered to France.

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