Sat. Jun 25th, 2022

UK Government introduces bill to fix the Northern Ireland Protocol

13 June 2022

The legislation introduced on 13 June aims to fix parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, to restore stability and protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

  • Bill ensures the delicate balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement is protected in all its dimensions and provides robust safeguards for the European Union (EU) single market
  • introduces durable solutions to fix the four key issues with the Protocol
  • legislation will remove unnecessary costs and paperwork for businesses

The government has introduced legislation today (Monday 13 June) to fix parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol – making the changes necessary to restore stability and ensure the delicate balance of theBelfast (Good Friday) Agreement is protected.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will allow the government to address the practical problems the Protocol has created in Northern Ireland in 4 key areas: burdensome customs processes, inflexible regulation, tax and spend discrepancies and democratic governance issues.

These problems include disruption and diversion of trade and significant costs and bureaucracy for business. They are undermining all 3 strands of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and have led to the collapse of the power-sharing arrangements at Stormont. The UK government is committed to seeing these institutions back up and running so that they can deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

Following 18 months of discussions with the EU, the UK’s preference remains for a negotiated solution to fix these problems which are baked into the Protocol.  But the EU must be willing to change the Protocol itself.  Ministers believe that the serious situation in Northern Ireland means they cannot afford to delay.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said:

This Bill will uphold the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and support political stability in Northern Ireland. It will end the untenable situation where people in Northern Ireland are treated differently to the rest of the United Kingdom, protect the supremacy of our courts and our territorial integrity.

This is a reasonable, practical solution to the problems facing Northern Ireland. It will safeguard the EU Single Market and ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland. We are ready to deliver this through talks with the EU. But we can only make progress through negotiations if the EU are willing to change the Protocol itself – at the moment they aren’t. In the meantime the serious situation in Northern Ireland means we cannot afford to allow the situation to drift.

As the government of the whole United Kingdom, it is our duty to take the necessary steps to preserve peace and stability.

The legislation enables the government to bring forward durable solutions in each of the 4 key areas. The solutions are:

  1. green and red channels to remove unnecessary costs and paperwork for businesses trading within the UK, while ensuring full checks are done for goods entering the EU
  2. businesses to have the choice of placing goods on the market in Northern Ireland according to either UK or EU goods rules, to ensure that Northern Ireland consumers are not prevented from buying UK standard goods, including as UK and EU regulations diverge over time
  3. ensure Northern Ireland can benefit from the same tax breaks and spending policies as the rest of the UK, including VAT cuts on energy-saving materials and Covid recovery loans
  4. normalise governance arrangements so that disputes are resolved by independent arbitration and not by the European Court of Justice

These changes are designed to protect all 3 strands of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, including North-South cooperation, and support stability and power-sharing in Northern Ireland. They will provide robust safeguards for the EU Single Market, underpinned by a Trusted Trader scheme and real-time data sharing to give the EU confidence that goods intended for Northern Ireland are not entering its market. The legislation also ensures goods moving between Great Britain and the EU are subject to EU checks and customs controls.

The UK’s proposals protect the elements of the Protocol that are working, such as the Common Travel Area. It also contains a provision for it to be replaced by a negotiated settlement, if one is agreed with the EU.

It is consistent with international law and further information on the government’s legal position has been published today.

The government has today also published a ‘problems and solutions’ explainer document setting out each of the proposals in detail.

The UK has engaged extensively with the EU to resolve the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol over the past 18 months. In the recent intensive discussions between October and March, the negotiating team held more than 300 hours of official and ministerial discussions and spent hundreds more examining the EU’s non-papers in detail.

However, it has become clear the EU proposals don’t address the core problems created by the Protocol. They would be worse than the status quo, requiring more paperwork and checks than today. The EU have said they will not allow changes to the Protocol within its current negotiating mandate.

Background
  • today’s introduction of legislation follows the Foreign Secretary’s statement to Parliament of 17 May
  • the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, and her predecessor Lord Frost, met with Vice President Sefcovic on 26 occasions to put forward and discuss comprehensive proposals to address the barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland – more than with any other international partner. To support these discussions, UK officials engaged in 18 weeks of technical discussions with their EU counterparts
  • following the Command Paper published in July 2021, UK officials shared a further 17 papers with the European Commission covering a range of issues and proposals including data sharing, VAT and customs, in an attempt to find common ground
  • alongside the Bill, the government has today also published:

VISIT WEBSITE

 


UK Parliament: Northern Ireland Protocol Bill

June 13, 2022

Make provision about the effect in domestic law of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU withdrawal agreement, about other domestic law in subject areas dealt with by the Protocol and for connected purposes.

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Statement by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on the UK government’s decision to table a bill disapplying core elements of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

Brussels, 13 June 2022 

 

Good evening,

The European Union wishes to have a positive and stable relationship with the United Kingdom. The EU and the UK are partners facing the same global challenges, where upholding the rule of law is imperative.

This relationship must, therefore, be based on the full respect of the legally binding commitments that we have made to one another – commitments based on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which the two parties negotiated, agreed and ratified.

The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement, protects the 1998 Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions.

It respects the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the UK. It avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland and protects the integrity of the EU Single Market.

After countless hours of intensive, line-by-line negotiations, it was the one and only solution we could jointly find to protect the hard-earned gains of the peace process in Northern Ireland, while addressing the challenges created by Brexit, and the type of Brexit chosen by the UK government.

Renegotiating the Protocol is unrealistic. No workable alternative solution has been found to this delicate, long-negotiated balance. Any renegotiation would simply bring further legal uncertainty for people and businesses in Northern Ireland. For these reasons, the European Union will not renegotiate the Protocol.

From the very beginning, however, the EU has shown understanding for the practical difficulties in implementing the Protocol. Based on our extensive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders in Northern Ireland, the European Commission has put forward far-reaching, bespoke arrangements, especially to facilitate the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

With political will and commitment, the full potential of the flexibilities put forward should be explored – and the European Commission remains keen to do that with the UK government as soon as possible. Only joint solutions would create the legal certainty that people and businesses in Northern Ireland deserve.

It is with significant concern that we take note of today’s decision by the UK government to table legislation disapplying core elements of the Protocol. Unilateral action is damaging to mutual trust. The Commission will now assess the UK draft legislation.

In particular, the Protocol provides business operators in Northern Ireland with access to the EU Single Market for goods. The UK government’s approach puts this access – and related opportunities – at risk.

Our aim will always be to secure the implementation of the Protocol. Our reaction to unilateral action by the UK will reflect that aim and will be proportionate.

As a first step, the Commission will consider continuing the infringement procedure launched against the UK government in March 2021. We had put this legal action on hold in September 2021 in a spirit of constructive cooperation to create the space to look for joint solutions. The UK’s unilateral action goes directly against this spirit.

The Commission will also consider launching new infringement procedures that protect the EU Single Market from the risks that the violation of the Protocol creates for EU businesses and for the health and safety of EU citizens.

In parallel, and in line with the EU’s strong and long-standing commitment to businesses and people in Northern Ireland, we will soon present in greater details our model for the flexible implementation of the Protocol, based on durable solutions within the Protocol.

This will demonstrate that solutions to the issues raised by business and people in Northern Ireland exist.

The European Commission recalls that the conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement was a pre-condition for the negotiation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Today’s decision by the UK government undermines the trust that is necessary for bilateral EU-UK cooperation within the framework of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

We call on the UK government to engage with us on joint solutions. The Commission stands ready to play its part – as it has from the outset.

I will now speak to the European Parliament and to our Member States.

Thank you!

Source – EU Commission

 


EU-Abgeordneter David McAllister (EVP/CDU) zur britischen Gesetzgebung hinsichtlich des nordirischen Handels nach dem Brexit

Die britische Regierung hat heute neue Rechtsvorschriften zur einseitigen Änderung des Nordirland-Protokolls vorgelegt. Dazu erklärt David McAllister (CDU), Co-Vorsitzender der Kontaktgruppe des Europaparlaments zum Vereinigten Königreich und Vorsitzender des Auswärtigen Ausschusses:

„Der eingeschlagene Weg der britischen Regierung ist und bleibt zutiefst bedauerlich. Das Protokoll zu Irland und Nordirland ist Teil eines internationalen Abkommens. Es wurde von beiden Seiten unterzeichnet und ratifiziert. Die Vereinbarungen in dieser schweren Form infrage zu stellen, führt einzig und allein zu großer Unsicherheit vor allem für Menschen und Unternehmen in Nordirland. Einseitige Maßnahmen sind nicht akzeptabel.

Die britische Regierung zeigt keine Lösungen für die aktuellen Probleme, die in Nordirland identifiziert wurden, auf. Stattdessen gefährdet sie die einzigartige Position Nordirlands, sowohl Zugang zum EU-Binnenmarkt für Waren zu haben als auch im Markt des Vereinigten Königreichs integriert zu sein. Die EU wird auf diesen Schritt in London entschlossen und geschlossen mit allen verfügbaren Mitteln reagieren. Es handelt sich um einen bewussten Akt, mit den Verpflichtungen aus dem Austrittsabkommen zu brechen. Um derartige Verstöße zu ahnden, stehen uns weitreichende rechtliche und politische Mittel zur Verfügung. Eine Neuverhandlung des Protokolls zu Irland und Nordirland ist keine Option. Das Protokoll kann nur durch einen ernsthaften Dialog vollständig umgesetzt werden. Die britische Regierung sollte wieder zu Gesprächen an den Tisch zurückkehren, um gemeinsam tragfähige und dauerhafte Lösungen zu finden. Die UK Contact Group im Europäischen Parlament wird morgen mit Kommissionsvizepräsident Maroš Šefčovič über die Reaktion der EU beraten.“

Source – EVP/CDU (per e-Mail)

 


S&Ds: By breaching NI Protocol, UK government is further destroying trust with EU

The S&D Group in the European Parliament has today heavily criticised the unilateral action proposed by the UK government to override the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK Government wants to give its Ministers unilateral powers to set post-Brexit rules governing trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, seeking to establish a new system for checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain and a so-called dual regime for regulatory standards.

S&D MEPs believe the proposed legislation would breach the terms of the Protocol on Northern Ireland, would break international law commitments freely taken by Boris Johnson and would seriously endanger post-Brexit economic and trade relations.

Pedro Silva Pereira, vice-president of the European Parliament and S&D member of the UK Coordination Group, said:

“Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson risks destroying what little trust there is left between the UK government and the EU by adopting unilateral proposals to breach the Northern Ireland Protocol. It is unacceptable that one side attempts to override the trade arrangements that form part of an agreement under international law. Despite his dubious relationship with the truth, the fact is that PM Johnson himself signed this agreement just over 2 years ago. Since then, his government has consistently failed to act in good faith or to remember the spirit of peace and cooperation set out in the Good Friday Agreement. After all, this is why the Northern Ireland Protocol exists in the first place.

The UK government should wake up to the serious damage this action will have on its reputation internationally, otherwise there will be serious consequences. Under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, there are real teeth in the toolbox of retaliatory measures and when MEPs meet with Vice President Maros Šefčovič tomorrow, we will tell him the Commission has our full support over the next steps to be taken in this regards. ”

Thijs Reuten, S&D coordinator for the EU-UK Parliamentary Assembly, said:

“Contrary to what PM Boris Johnson believes, there is nothing trivial about the unilateral action the UK government has published today. Instead, after London’s countless earlier failures to act in good faith, today’s announcement represents the UK government’s clear intent to commit yet another serious breach of international law.

“We reject Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempt to once again spur animosity with the EU to distract from his poor political performance at home. His domestic reputation is clearly already on the rocks, but the UK’s reputation as a credible, global player is still intact. We call on the United Kingdom to refrain from wilfully undermining our post-Brexit cooperation at a time when unity among European allies is of the utmost importance. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail as these proposals make their way through the UK Parliament.

“First and foremost, the UK government should revisit Northern Ireland to listen to the views of its people. Recent elections showed there is no political majority for ripping up the NI Protocol, while businesses have also been vocal on their opposition to the harmful impact these regimes on checks and regulations would have on their activity. I hope that, before this cynical political act on the part of Mr Johnson does any damage to their livelihoods, the UK government will return to the table with the EU to look for a negotiated solution on the trade arrangements in Northern Ireland. We remain open to any practical solutions that fully respect the international Treaty already signed by both parties.”

 


Renew Europe: Unilateral action will not provide solutions for the people of Northern Ireland

JUNE 13, 2022

Renew Europe expresses concern at the UK Government’s decision to table unilateral domestic legislation intended to undermine the EU – UK withdrawal agreement and the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. Renew Europe calls for EU – UK negotiations within the framework of the Protocol to be restarted.

Nathalie Loiseau (France, Renaissance), Co-Chair of the European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group and Chair of the Parliament’s Delegation to the EU – UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, said:

“Unilateral action will not provide solutions for the people of Northern Ireland. We need joint solutions. The EU will remain calm, we will remain united. There will be no renegotiation of the Protocol. Respected Government’s don’t break international law. As responsible politicians we must find solutions when there are problems, not invent problems when there are solutions.”

Barry Andrews MEP (Ireland, Fianna Fáil), Renew Europe’s representative on the European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group & member of the Parliament’s Delegation to the EU – UK Parliamentary Assembly, said:

“The Johnson Government has continually shown a disregard for the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland. The Stormont executive has become collateral damage in the on-going Tory leadership issues. This is why it is so important that the EU continues to focus on resolving genuine issues as soon as the British Government chooses to engage in serious discussions.”