Warning to Britain: ‘Do not touch the Northern Ireland Protocol’

Status: 05/10/2022 19:30

At Brexit, it was agreed that special customs rules would apply to Northern Ireland. Chancellor Scholz and Belgian Prime Minister De Croo now urgently warn Great Britain against terminating this agreement. The EU is also clear.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo have warned the British government not to end the customs regulations for Northern Ireland agreed at Brexit, the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. After a conversation with de Croo in Berlin, Scholz said the protocol was “good regulation.”

No one should override or break the rules that we have agreed to together.

The EU Commission is ready with the utmost pragmatism to solve the problems in the implementation of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. “But that should also be the path we continue to take,” Scholz said. De Croo also warned London against unilateral steps: “Our message is very clear: don’t touch it. That’s something we’ve agreed on.” A termination of the protocols would make all the Brexit rules obsolete, de Croo explained in the meeting with Scholz.

Sefcovic: Renegotiation is not an option

The protocol aims to avoid border controls between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, and Great Britain’s Northern Ireland. However, goods must be checked when brought into Northern Ireland from the UK to meet EU standards. In fact, a customs border crosses the UK.

The EU Commission has rejected calls for renegotiations in case this agreement is breached. The protocol is an integral part of a “positive and stable relationship” between the European Union and the United Kingdom, EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic said. Brussels is open to new negotiations on the implementation of the agreement. A fundamental renegotiation is “not an option” and the EU agrees to that, according to Sefcovic. He warned London against taking unilateral action.

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

Difficult government formation

The dispute over the protocol is also hampering the formation of a government in Northern Ireland. In the parliamentary elections the Catholic party Sinn Fein became the strongest force for the first time. Its aim is to unite Northern Ireland and Ireland. However, the 1998 peace agreement stipulates that the regional government must be run jointly by Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists.

In practice, this now means that the pro-British DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) must agree to the formation of a government. However, the DUP is against Northern Ireland’s special status in the Brexit deal and has so far blocked the formation of a new regional government.

Johnson sees the protocol as untenable

After the election, Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin had already warned British Prime Minister Johnson against unilaterally overturning the rules agreed with the EU for trade in British-led Northern Ireland after Brexit.

No decision has yet been made on the matter, a spokesman for Johnson said Tuesday. However, in a telephone conversation with Martin, Johnson stressed that the regional elections in Northern Ireland had “shown again that the protocol in its current form is not tenable.”

Completion Reports

According to a newspaper report, British Chancellor Liz Truss wants to scrap much of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The ministry is said to have drafted a law that would unilaterally lift all controls on Britain’s assets. A corresponding announcement is expected next week, according to the newspaper report.

Regina Anderson

"Extreme gamer. Food geek. Internet buff. Alcohol expert. Passionate music specialist. Beeraholic. Incurable coffee fan."

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