Warning to Britain: ‘Don’t touch the Northern Ireland protocol’

Status: 05/10/2022 7:30 PM

In Brexit, it was agreed that special customs rules would apply to Northern Ireland. Chancellor Schultz and Belgian Prime Minister de Croo are now warning Great Britain not to cancel this agreement. The European Union is also clear.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo warned the British government against ending Northern Ireland’s customs regulations agreed in Brexit – the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. After a conversation with de Croo in Berlin, Schulz said the protocol was “well organized”.

No one should override or violate the rules we agreed on together.

The EU Commission is prepared with the greatest pragmatism to solve problems in the implementation of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. “But that also has to be the path that we continue to follow,” Schultz said. De Croo also warned London against taking unilateral steps: “Our message is very clear: Don’t touch it. This is something we have agreed on.” De Croo made clear in the meeting with Schulz that ending the protocols would render all Brexit rules obsolete.

Sefkovic: Re-negotiation is not an option

The protocol aims to avoid border controls between the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union, and Northern Ireland of Great Britain. However, goods when brought into Northern Ireland from the UK must be checked for compliance with EU standards. In fact, the customs border passes through the UK.

The EU Commission rejected calls for renegotiations in the event of a breach of this agreement. EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic said the protocol is an integral part of a “positive and stable relationship” between the EU and the UK. Brussels is open to further negotiations on the implementation of the agreement. According to Sefkovic, basic renegotiation is “not an option” and the EU agrees. He warned London against taking unilateral steps.

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The Irish government in Dublin also sent words of warning to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told Irish broadcaster RTÉ that the contract was international. London must fulfill its obligations.

Difficult government formation

The dispute over the protocol also hinders the formation of a government in Northern Ireland. In the parliamentary elections, the Catholic Sinn Fein party was the strongest party for the first time. Aiming to unite Northern Ireland and Ireland. However, the 1998 peace agreement states that the regional government must be jointly led by Catholic nationalists and Protestant trade unionists.

In practice, this now means that the pro-British DUP must agree to form a government. However, the DUP opposes Northern Ireland’s special status in the Brexit agreement and has so far blocked the formation of a new regional government.

Johnson sees the protocol as ‘unviable’

After the election, Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin has already warned British Prime Minister Johnson of wanting to bypass rules agreed with the European Union for trade in Britain’s post-Brexit Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for Johnson said on Tuesday that a decision had not yet been made. In a phone conversation with Martin, however, Johnson stressed that the Northern Ireland regional elections “have shown once again that the protocol in its current form is unsustainable”.

Termination Reports

According to a press report, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wants to scrap large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The ministry is said to have drafted a law that would unilaterally lift all controls on goods from Great Britain. A similar announcement is expected next week, according to the newspaper report.

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