What is the reason for the dispute between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol?
What is EU’s position on UK’s request to renegotiate the NI Protocol?
What problems has the UK withdrawal from the EU created for the people of Northern Ireland?
What could happen if the UK and the EU disagreed on Northern Ireland?
For months, the EU has been at loggerheads with the UK over the rules for Northern Ireland. Now the tensions between London and Brussels have intensified again. The Brexit minister, Lord Frost, once again threatened Europe that London would put unilateral action on the agenda if the NI Protocol is not reformed.
UK warns EU
Exactly one day before, the EU wanted to make proposals to resolve the dispute over the NI Protocol. The UK government again threatened Europe in a firm tone. In a speech in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, UK’s Brexit minister, David Frost, warned the EU of making a historic mistake and called for a replacement for the part agreed upon in the Brexit agreement. He once again threatened Europe that London would put unilateral action on the agenda if it did not follow the process of amending the Northern Ireland Protocol. Frost has threatened to activate the Northern Ireland Protection Mechanism under Article 16 of the NI Protocol if the EU does not accept UK’s proposed reforms. He called on the EU to address the fundamental issues of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which it said had failed and caused a rift between London and Brussels, and to show its willingness to resolve them.
Possibility of Activating Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol
David Frost has once again threatened to activate the Northern Ireland Protection Mechanism under Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol if the EU does not accept UK’s proposed reforms. Article 16 allows the two sides to temporarily close the Irish border or establish border crossings during economic, social and environmental problems. The EU also threatened the UK with Article 16 a few months ago following the escalation of the Covid-19 vaccine crisis.
Brussels Does Not Consider UK’s Demands Negotiable
In part of his speech to the EU, Frost said, “In short, let’s try to get back to normal … With some effort of will we could still, despite all the problems, be in a position where the poison is drawn from this issue entirely, and it is removed from the top diplomatic table once and for all.” Frost also called for an end to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) role as a reviewing authority for NI protocol laws, which Brussels believes is non-negotiable.
Following UK’s Promise in Agreement with the EU
Following UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the region’s single market, the UK has faced severe difficulties in sending goods to Northern Ireland, which is part of the country but subject to EU trade law, and has repeatedly called for renegotiation. The UK PM signed the Northern Ireland Protocol as part of the Bargaining Agreement in 2020, but has since often argued that the issue was hastily agreed and no longer works for the people of Northern Ireland.
Renegotiating UK’s Proposal to the EU
The NI Protocol is one of the most controversial issues in relations between Brussels and London. The UK government wants to renegotiate the Protocol despite the EU’s refusal. London has repeatedly threatened to activate Article 16 of the Bargaining Agreement. According to the NI Protocol, imports of goods and services from the EU to Northern Ireland should not be subject to British customs tariffs, and the UK is required to comply with EU rules on trade in goods and services. For several months now, Boris Johnson’s government has been urging the EU to renegotiate the provisions of the NI Protocol, which effectively established a customs border between the UK and Northern Ireland to allow the free movement of goods between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
The EU Does Not Accept Renegotiations
The EU has said it is unwilling to negotiate an agreement signed in good faith between the two sides and has recommended that the UK government seek a solution instead of using threatening language. David Frost called the agreement the most significant cause of mistrust between the sides and said that “Maybe there is a world in which the Protocol could have worked, more sensitively implemented, but the situation has now moved on. We now face a very serious situation. The Protocol is not working.” Frost also said the UK was ready to take the EU proposal seriously, thoroughly and positively. He also stressed that the EU must accept the principle of amendments to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Boris Johnson’s deputy noted that Northern Ireland was a UK territory and did not belong to the EU.
Irish Deputy PM Warns the UK
On the verge of solving the London-Brussels conflict, mistrust between the UK government and European representatives grows. The Irish deputy prime minister has warned the UK that it will lose its global credibility if it does not adhere to the NI Protocol as part of the Brexit deal. Leo Varadkar warned the UK government that London will lose its global confidence if it becomes clear that the UK never wanted to abide by the NI Protocol as part of the previously agreed Brexit agreement.
The Critical Message the NI Will Send to the Whole World
He said in an interview that in this case, the message should be sent to the whole world that the UK government is not necessarily faithful to its promises and will not fulfil the agreements that have been reached.
Following the UK’s exit from the EU earlier this year, British citizens in Northern Ireland faced numerous food shortages. The main reason was to check and inspect products that had to cross the border of the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU, to reach Northern Ireland. UK’s exit from the EU has caused various problems for people in Northern Ireland, especially in recent weeks as the UK faces a fuel shortage crisis followed by food and beverage shortages. If the crisis is not resolved in the short term, it is possible that the UK will face a severe lack of food in stores on Christmas Eve, and people will not be able to meet their basic needs. Boris Johnson’s government has taken no specific actions to resolve the crisis other than temporary and useless solutions, raising concerns about the continued crisis.