The British government’s unilateral action to repeal the protocol agreed with the EU has increased political tensions in Northern Ireland and between the UK government and the EU. The result has been a direct escalation of tensions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Brexit Regulations for Ireland
Under the Irish Protocol, which is part of Britain’s agreement with the European Union, controls are imposed on goods imported from Britain into Ireland.
Although the British government had promised that there would be no barriers to trade between Ireland and the UK after Brexit, the new regulations have disrupted food, plant , and online deliveries.
All parties to the Brexit talks agreed to support the Irish Peace Treaty, calling it a red line.
New arrangements were needed in the agreement. Accordingly, a special mechanism was established to keep land borders between the Republic of Ireland (in the European Union) and Northern Ireland (in the UK) open, as well as prevent new surveillance technologies, such as cameras and border surveillance. This was good until Boris Johnson unilaterally announced that the agreement with the European Union had been completely suspended.
After Brexit, the Republic of Ireland now follows many EU laws, including trade rules and cross-border inspections. But Britain no longer follows the agreed rules.
But the inspection of new goods, port inspections in Northern Ireland and customs documents are all in accordance with the relevant agreement and mechanism.
What Do Checks Include?
The EU has laws on food imports such as meat, milk, fish, and eggs that the UK has agreed to under Brexit.
Some food products which are also imported into the UK from Northern Ireland are subject to these rules and regulations. This is to ensure compliance with EU standards.
But the checks were temporarily suspended in early February. The reason for the suspension was the threats made by some border guards who were inspecting the goods. Now that these threats have been resolved, monitoring has resumed.
In fact, the resumption of monitoring is not against the agreement, but it is the decision of the British government that opposes the agreement.
Rising Tensions in Ireland
The deviation of public opinion from the realities of Brexit and the escalation of tensions between Britain and the European Union have increased tensions between Northern and Southern Ireland.
On the one hand, supporters of alliance with Britain strongly oppose the checks, because they do not want Northern Ireland to be treated differently from the rest of Britain.
Many pro-union politicians in Northern Ireland, who are defending their position as part of Britain, are calling for the protocol to be repealed altogether and have demanded the withdrawal of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement.
Activists for Northern Ireland’s independence, on the other hand, consider the checks to be Brexit-based and condemn what they consider to be intimidation.
The Roots of the Crisis
Under the agreement, supermarkets were exempted from food import laws in Northern Ireland in the first quarter, because they were given the opportunity to adapt to the new conditions. Some meat products, such as sausages, were given a six-month breathing period.
But before the expiration of this period, the British government, in a unilateral decision on 3 March, extended the date until October. During a visit to Northern Ireland on 12 March, Boris Johnson legalised the government’s action.
The EU considers this a violation of international law and has now begun legal action that could end up at the European Court of Justice and impose significant fines on Britain.
An EU official said Britain’s move was a “bad mistake” and that the law on checks on goods from Britain to Northern Ireland was “quite clear” when reviewing the protocol.
EU membership is a key element in promoting Ireland. The foundation of Ireland’s modern economy were laid with the completion of the EU single market.
Without a single market, Ireland would not have its current international pharmaceutical, energy, and services sectors. A single market is vital for Ireland, and Ireland seeks to protect its membership.
Unilateral Cancellation Scenarios by the UK
Britain has provoked the current crisis. Its unilateral decision to delay the full implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol is crucial to Ireland’s future. The EU single market is under threat and Northern Ireland considers its presence in the EU very important.
A century ago, Ireland chose independence at the expense of customs and border control. Britain’s failure to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol is catastrophic for Ireland, forcing it to be re-elected a century ago.
If Britain refuses to implement the protocol, this will be a permanent threat to the EU single market. In this case, there are two scenarios to choose from for Northern Ireland: Ireland must either leave the EU single market, because border controls will otherwise be established between the North and the Republic to protect the market. This is a situation that the protocol is designed to prevent.
Another scenario is that the European Parliament will not be able to ratify the agreement due to Britain’s refusal to implement the protocol. In this case, the immediate definition of tariffs, border control and many other regulations in EU-UK relations will be returned to the table.
Britain is trying to use its old policy of divide and rule. When Brexit rules are not in the best interest of the British government, it tries to disrupt the whole game. The unilateral repeal of the protocol is a way to prevent Ireland’s future progress asthis will lead to other regions, such as Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland, to want independence and accession to the European Union beyond British control, making England a small country.