|Author (Corporate)||Cardiff EDC|
|Content Type||Blog, News, Overview|
Information Guide bringing together a summary and relevant sources concerning the discussions around and challenges facing the implementation of the Protocol signed by the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) aimed at regulating the situation in the island of Ireland following the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.
The substantive provisions of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland started to apply on 1 January 2021. However, its full implementation was subject to great controversy and discussion in the months that followed, particularly as the impact of those provisions on the relations between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain (GB) became more visible.
In late January 2021, the European Commission initially indicated it intended to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol - also known as the Safeguard Clause - to temporarily place export controls on this movement in respect of vaccines. Following criticism from UK and other European stakeholders, the Commission later backtracked on the decision.
On 3 March, the UK Government stated it intended to unilaterally extend the grace period on paperwork concerning GB-NI movement of goods and pet travel. This was criticised by the EU as a delay to the full application of the Protocol, and therefore a potential breach to it. The European Commission argues this had been conducted without previous consultation or discussion in the bodies established by the Withdrawal Agreement signed between the two sides. As a result, the Commission addressed a Letter of Formal Notice to the UK on 15 March, thereby launching an infringement procedure for breaching substantive provisions of the Protocol, as well as the good faith obligation under the Agreement. The UK was given one months to submit its observations to the Letter. A political letter was also sent to the UK's co-chair of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which urged the UK government to rectify and refrain from putting into practice the statements and guidance published earlier in the month, and to engage in bilateral consultations for a solution to be found.
On 30 June, the Commission issued a package of measures aimed at addressing some of the concerns regarding the implementation of the Protocol. Unilateral statements were issued by both sides extending the grace period for the movement of chilled meats from GB to NI until 30 September 2021. The Commission also placed other solutions on the table in a number of areas, including supply of medicines, guide dogs and the insurance green card.
The infringement procedure was halted by the Commission on 27 July to allow room for talks between the two sides. UK minister for Brexit, David Frost, called for a complete overhaul of the Protocol. While reaffirming it would not engage in renegotiation, the Commission was open to discuss matters relating to the practicalities around the application of the Protocol on the ground.
On 13 October, the Commission tabled further four non-papers aimed at addressing the difficulties felt by Northern Irish people as a result of Brexit. This package was portrayed as a result of discussions with the UK Government, as well as outreach to relevant stakeholders in NI. It also responded to elements raised by the UK's Command Paper published in July.
*page under development*
|Subject Categories||Internal Markets, Politics and International Relations, Trade|
|Countries / Regions||United Kingdom|
|International Organisations||European Union [EU]|