Northern Irish firms hail EU proposals to resolve Brexit protocol row
By SEAMLESS DAILY
13 October 2021
If the goal is making Brexit work for Northern Ireland, Mr Šefčovič's proposals are the basis for agreement.
They say the promise to do away with most of the checks for British food and goods entering Northern Ireland and customs paperwork could forge the basis of a deal.
At the start of the year, the new post-Brexit arrangement- known as the Northern Ireland Protocol- was introduced to help prevent checks along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
He added : “ In a sense they have gone beyond some of our expectations. ” Industry leaders acknowledged "red line" demands by the UK and unionists to scrap the role of the European court of justice as the final arbiter in trade disputes.
They want the protocol to work.
Glyn Roberts, the chief executive of Retail NI, which represents independent supermarkets and corner shops, said he was optimistic a deal could be shaped out of the UK and EU proposals.
"I 've had independent retailers, delis, who have been unable to get access to their products," he said.
Northern Ireland has a special Brexit deal which keeps it in the EU's single market for goods and allows free-flowing trade with the EU.
It's expansive and generous – a massive reduction in checks on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland, a significant relaxation on rules on agricultural goods, concessions on governance and medicine.
Brexit minister Lord Frost said the protocol- which the UK originally agreed to- was harming the peace process in Northern Ireland and that it undermined the Good Friday Agreement.
European Commission Vice-President Maros Šefčovič said he had listened to, and engaged with, those in Northern Ireland.
"We have put a lot of hard work into them to make a tangible change on the ground."
He said he looked forward to "engaging earnestly and intensively" with the UK government.
Talks between the EU and UK on the new proposals are now likely to go on for several weeks.
irish foreign minister simon coveney said the proposals were a "major effort" to address the post-brexit trade rules.
On Tuesday, Lord Frost, Mr Johnson's minister for Brexit, made a speech demanding that the protocol be scrapped and replaced with a new treaty.
The agreement states that the ECJ has jurisdiction to rule on matters of EU law in Northern Ireland- so for example, if there was a dispute around complying with applicable EU law, the EU could take the UK to the ECJ.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit deal : It is an agreement that means goods can pass freely across the Irish border.
A grace period, which means the protocol is not being fully implemented, currently means that supermarkets do not face a full range of controls.
The EU is proposing that "national identity goods", or those which do not have a non-GB supply chain, would be exempt, but that leaves open the possibility that some goods could be banned.
The EU is now proposing to change its laws around the regulation of medicines to keep products flowing.
It would also see interested parties invited to some meetings of the Specialised Committee, one of the joint UK bodies that oversee the protocol.
The EU says it also wants to create a stronger link between the Northern Ireland Assembly and the EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party- Northern Ireland's largest unionist party- has warned that it may quit Stormont if its demands over the protocol are not met.
Our best hope is that Lord Frost is an imbecile rather than a lunatic.
The EU has made its big offer on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He didn't even have the grace to wait for the EU offer to be published before shooting it down.
The EU had all-but-eradicated borders within its territory by creating a customs union, which eliminated the need to check goods for tariffs, and a single market, which eliminated the need to check them for regulatory compliance.
Boris Johnson and Lord Frost decided to put the border in the Irish Sea.
In October 2019, the Prime Minister wrote to Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and proposed an "all-island regulatory zone on the island of Ireland".
But the UK never abided by the terms it set.
It took the grace periods, which were intended to give businesses time to adapt to the new rules, and unilaterally extended them.
this would be added to the two legal proceedings.
Those cases were paused while the EU tried to find solutions.
But Frost's obsession with the European Court changes the dynamic.
and suddenly britain is in a trade war.
The problem isn't really with the Article 16 procedure itself.
It can ’ t move the border to the island of Ireland, because that would put the Peace Process at risk.
They take place under the Withdrawal Agreement, which is far tougher.
that includes the trade and cooperation agreement, which eliminated tariffs on it.
In recent weeks, as fears of inflation have grown, sterling has started to behave quite unusually.
As Mr Johnson knows, that court is intrinsic to the operation of single-market rules, which apply in Northern Ireland to avoid the requirement for a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Frost ’ s demand amounts, in essence, to detonating the foundations of the deal.
To make it the day before the European Commission was due to propose its own technical remedies to operational problems with the protocol was downright provocative.
Those plans, laid out on Wednesday by Maroš Šefčovič, the commission vice-president responsible for Brexit, were practical and technical in much the way that Mr Frost's contribution was not.
Such an arrangement would have been considered a dramatic concession and a victory for Brexiters had it been offered at an earlier stage in the process.
Some EU members, notably France, are uncomfortable with the plan for precisely that reason.
He is being offered a diplomatic solution to a problem of his own making.
It costs him little to accept; it costs Britain a great deal if he refuses.
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