The Government has set out the range of issues caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol. These include trade disruption and diversion, significant costs and bureaucracy for traders and areas where people in Northern Ireland have not been able to benefit fully from the same advantages as those in the rest of the United Kingdom. This has contributed to a deep sense of concern that the links between Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been undermined. This document outlines the UK’s solution—fixing the problems so that Northern Ireland can move forward, while protecting the UK and EU markets so that no-one loses out.
The UK Approach Our preference is to negotiate solutions to the problems being faced by businesses, citizens and communities. Unfortunately, after eighteen months of talks we have not so far been able to agree on an outcome that provides a sustainable basis for operating the Protocol. But we have made clear and comprehensive proposals which would deliver that sustainability, address the full range of issues raised by the Protocol and restore the balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. This document outlines those proposals. In short they would:
- Establish new “green channel” arrangements for goods staying in the UK—fixing the burdens and bureaucracy caused by the application of EU customs and SPS rules to all goods at present;
- Establish a new “dual regulatory” model to provide flexibility to choose between UK or EU rules— removing barriers to trade and managing risks of future divergence between UK and EU rules;
- Ensure the Government can set UK-wide policies on subsidy control and VAT—overcoming constraints that have meant NI has not benefited from the same support as other parts of the UK;
- Deal with the Protocol’s unequal governance, removing the role of the CJEU in dispute settlement and providing the means for UK authorities and courts to set out the arrangements which apply in Northern Ireland
Given the urgency and seriousness of the problems in Northern Ireland, we will be bringing forward legislation that will enable the sustainable operation of the Protocol in line with these proposals. In parallel we will seek proactively to achieve the same objectives through a negotiated settlement. Our legislation allows us to implement a negotiated agreement. In all scenarios we will remain committed to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, and to respecting the EU’s legitimate interest to see its Single Market protected.