UK outlines plan to roll back post-Brexit Northern Ireland deal

Britain has planned to override some of the post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, allowing parts of the deal to be scrapped, while citing instability in the region and overburdened bureaucracy.

Under the bill unveiled on Monday June 13, UK changes include the introduction of a ‘green lane’ for goods transported from Britain only to Northern Ireland.

The bill also allows ministers to suspend parts of the deal, it aligns Northern Ireland’s tax policies with those of the rest of the UK. Crucially, the legislation would also end the role of the European Court of Justice as the sole arbiter of the protocol.

The bill could take a year or a year and a half to pass through parliament in Westminster.

“It is with great concern that we take note of today’s decision by the UK government to table legislation which does not implement the essential elements of the protocol,” EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič said in response to the draft. law, adding that “unilateral action harms mutual trust”. .

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Šefčovič on Monday morning that the bloc must be willing to change post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland.

“Spoke to [EU Commission] Vice President Maroš Šefčovič to discuss the legislation we are announcing today to address issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol and restore political stability,” Truss tweeted.

“Our preference is a negotiated solution, but the EU must be willing to modify the protocol itself.”

The EU has repeatedly ruled out renegotiating the protocol which was agreed to by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, but it is flexible on implementation.

The bloc also criticized London for taking unilateral action, arguing it leads to instability.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin called London’s decision a “low point”, which was “very regrettable”.

“Announcing the unilateral violation of an international agreement is quite a serious thing and cannot simply be brushed aside,” Martin said.

“This goes to the heart of trust and the EU needs a trusted partner to negotiate with,” he added.

Johnson argued that the changes to the protocol are “relatively insignificant” steps that were necessary to improve trade and simplify bureaucracy.

Šefčovič said the committee would now consider continuing EU legal inquiries launched against the UK government in 2021 into previous issues.

The UK has already unilaterally decided not to implement parts of the deal, such as the derogation from the rules for supermarkets and cold meat controls.

The EU could trigger new legal action for the British government’s failure to comply with parts of the protocol, Šefčovič added.

As a countermeasure, the EU could also introduce tariffs on UK goods, or even suspend the entire EU-UK trade deal.

The EU could also make it difficult to cooperate on different issues with the UK, such as migration, financial services or participation in the EU’s €96 billion Horizon research programme.

Johnson said any talk of a retaliatory trade war from the EU would be a “gross and gross overreaction”.

Breakup fears

The protocol was agreed as part of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, signed by the UK in January 2020, with the aim of maintaining peace in Northern Ireland where the 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended decades of sectarian violence.

Following Brexit, the agreement introduced customs control over the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, to keep the land border free and invisible between the province and the republic of ‘Ireland.

The EU last October proposed changes to cut red tape, but the UK rejected those proposals and called for a renegotiation.

Brexit and the protocol have also heightened tensions in Northern Ireland, with unionist communities fearing ties with the UK will loosen.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which won the second-most seats for the first time in recent Northern Ireland Assembly elections after traditionally winning the most seats, says the protocol creates a fracture and could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. .

The DUP refused to set up a new power-sharing executive with Irish nationalist Sinn Féin, which won the most seats and accepts the protocol.

The DUP wants the protocol to change before joining the power-sharing government.

On Monday, a majority of assembly members signed an open letter to Johnson saying they rejected “in the strongest possible terms” his “reckless” Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, the report reported. Guardian.


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