Northern Ireland Protocol: State of Play

6 June 2022

This report is free to access.

The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has been a thorn in the side of relations between the UK and the European Union (EU) since the ink was barely dry. It seeks to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement concluded in 1998, which established power-sharing between unionists and nationalists, but this has collapsed since February 2022, because the unionists, supported by the UK Government, oppose Northern Ireland being carved out from the UK Internal Market

By doing so, the Protocol removes any requirement for customs formalities for goods crossing the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Protocol led to a customs border in the Irish Sea for 'exports' from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, and also requires Parliament to legislate the EU Single Market for goods in Northern Ireland and to carve out the territory from otherwise applicable UK legislation

UK divergence from the rules of the EU Single Market will threaten Northern Ireland’s position in UK supply chains and also potentially undermine the EU Single Market, which is of concern to the EU, especially for matters of human health, such as “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs). This report concludes that a revised agreement should be attached to the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which then applies to all of the UK

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