The European Union and the United Kingdom today held their seventh meeting of the Specialised Committee on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland by videoconference. It took place in a constructive atmosphere.
The two sides used the occasion to take stock of all outstanding problematic issues on the implementation of the Protocol, as well as on the state of play on the implementation on the ground. The Commission recalled the legal action launched against the UK on 15 March 2021 for breaching the substantive provisions of the Protocol, as well as the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement. It called on the UK government to confirm that the common objective is to ensure full compliance with the Protocol and that it expects the UK to reply on time to the political letter sent by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič to Lord David Frost.
Both parties underlined the importance of joint action, through the joint bodies provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement, to provide stability and predictability for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.
The EU reiterated its commitment to the Protocol, which is the only way to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement and to preserve peace and stability, while avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and maintaining the integrity of the EU Single Market. The EU reminded the UK that there would be a significant reduction in the number of certificates and controls needed, in accordance with the Protocol, between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK if it chose to have a comprehensive veterinary agreement following the EU’s SPS rules.
The EU stands ready to find swift, pragmatic solutions within the framework of the Protocol, and on the basis of a joint list of outstanding issues. For that to happen, the UK needs to provide “a credible roadmap, with clear deliverables and milestones for the implementation of the relevant rules and requirements of the Protocol for which implementation is deficient or delayed”, as set out in the above-mentioned letter by the Vice-President.
The EU is expecting to receive the roadmap in the next coming days.
Both sides have agreed to remain in contact next week to follow up on today’s meeting.
Finally, both parties agreed to start joint engagement again with business groups, civil society and other stakeholders in Northern Ireland.
The Specialised Committee on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland is one of the six Specialised Committees established under Article 165 of the Withdrawal Agreement. Its role is to facilitate the implementation and application of this Protocol and make recommendations to the Joint Committee as regards the functioning of the Protocol.