December 06, 2017
Ireland in search of its own path in the EU
Brexit brings to the forefront Ireland's over-dependence on the UK as an ally at the EU negotiating table, and as a buyer of Irish goods and services. With Brexit this dependence is becoming a liability for Ireland, and prompting a turn in Irish diplomacy. Leo Varadkar was to attend the African summit (which in the end he had to cancel), where Ireland has virtually no footprint. Ireland also recently applied to join the Francophonie, a club of French-speaking states, though not as a member but as an observer. French is growing as a language in Africa and, if the population continues to grow as forecast, it could even overtake Mandarin, Spanish, or English, as the world's most-spoken language. Observer status would bring Ireland closer into the French orbit, and allow Dublin to develop new relationships and diversify trade, so the Irish Times.
We also note an interesting comment by linguist Joachim Fischer, who notes that in a post-Brexit world Ireland will also face cultural shifts in the media and academia that they have not even begun to think about. Outsider perspectives can never be identical to insider perspective, and this will affect the discourse in the UK and also in Ireland, which used to rely on the UK for input in its own debates.
British media will discuss the EU as an outsider, with from a different mindset from the (mostly negative) coverage about the EU while still a member. After Brexit, Irish commentators can no longer rely on British prompts. They will have to turn to continental media to find reference points for debating the future of Europe, and the role of Ireland within it.
This also affects teaching. So far, teaching EU studies depends on textbooks by British publishers. The conceptualisation is strongly influenced by British perspectives. From there, a discussion a about the future of the EU will look very different indeed. Compare Wikipedia in different languages and you already see the not-so-subtle differences, which are only likely to increase with an outsider mindset.
Fischer sees this as an opportunity for the language-lazy Irish. The time has come for Ireland to find its own path in a new Europe. This calls for new alliances and a stronger engagement in the multi-linguistic and multi-cultural EU.