Would You like a feature Interview?
All Interviews are 100% FREE of Charge
As the UK and EU seek to reach an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol, attention is turned to removing costly bureaucracy for goods crossing the Irish Sea, but the debate is much more complicated than that. .
One professional body has identified at least eight disagreements, two in particular that are “unlikely” to be resolved without active concessions by either side.
Insiders believe these biggest obstacles – the role of European judges overseeing the application of EU law and the Protocol in Northern Ireland – are focused on the most visible aspect of the dispute: border controls. , says it has been underestimated.
Meanwhile, optimism that the UK and EU are poised to enter an intensifying negotiating ‘tunnel’ without media scrutiny suggests a solution is within reach, but has been dashed. was
Instead, the 10th place suggested that no such move was imminent, highlighting a “huge gap” between London and Brussels’ positions.
A government source said the idea that a breakthrough was imminent was “hyped”, adding that “people need to calm down”.
So are the chances of a successful secret deal being exaggerated and these disputes going unresolved?
The eight key pain points are:
- Customs – The UK has argued that the EU proposal has not gone far enough to create a ‘green lane’ to remove the hassle of goods staying in Northern Ireland, or a trusted trader scheme to move into the Republic. I hope
- Subsidies – Anything that affects trade between Northern Ireland and the EU falls under the EU’s State Aid regime, which the UK wants to end.
- VAT and sales tax rates – Britain wants to regain control after the Protocol puts Northern Ireland under EU rule.
- European Court of Justice (ECJ) – oversees the Protocol and allows the EU to bring the UK to court for not applying EU law in Northern Ireland.
- Sausages and Chilled Meats – All animal-derived products face costly paperwork and physical inspections, but grace periods have delayed implementation.
- Pets – The Protocol requires pets traveling from the UK to Northern Ireland to have health certificates, microchips and rabies vaccinations, again with a grace period.
- Manufactured Goods – Must comply with both GB and EU regulations, raising concerns that companies will shy away from the Northern Ireland market.
- Stormont – The Belfast institution has been argued not to have to adopt the regulatory changes still in force in Northern Ireland, creating a ‘democratic deficit’.
Jess Sargent, a Brexit expert at the Government Research Institute (IfG), said there were deeper disagreements than border checks and controls, the issue of greatest concern to people in Northern Ireland.
“The EU has not proposed anything for state aid or the ECJ. This has historically been a red line for the British government and many traitors to the prime minister. An agreement is unlikely,” she explained. .
“If the prime minister insists that any deal must include a change in the ECJ’s role, it is not clear how a deal can be obtained.”
The UK and EU have launched an agreement to share trade data, but Ms Sargent notes that it excludes checks and paperwork on food, the most controversial issue, noting that “data sharing is very It’s a small issue,” he said.
David Jones, former Brexit minister and vice-chair of the Conservative “Pro-Brexit” European Studies Group (ERG), pointed to EU rules and the ECJ, not border checks, as the main controversy.
“The essential aim of the UK government’s negotiations is to ensure that EU law no longer prevails in Northern Ireland and that the ECJ has no jurisdiction over any part of the UK,” he said. .
Foreign Minister James Cleverley and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Shevchovic will hold a video call in the coming days.
Their job is to redesign the deal Boris Johnson struck in late 2019 and use Theresa May’s hated “backstop” to avoid the Irish trade border when the UK leaves the EU. It is to be removed, but the Irish Sea instead of the border.
More than three years later, power-sharing in Belfast collapsed due to Unionist rage, and a bill was introduced to parliament to allow Britain to unilaterally nullify the protocol in violation of international law. , says the EU and most legal experts.
Efforts to end the stalemate were revived with the entry of Rishi Sunak in 10th place, and Joe Biden’s visit was dangling as a prize for success on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace deal in April.
EU sources explain that “the ball is in the British courts” as to whether a deal will be reached, but Johnson’s supporters are calling for a “sell out” to revive Johnson’s leadership ambitions. Eager to seize, Mr. Sunak’s political danger is clear.
If talks linger past May’s local elections, the window of opportunity could be closed, and the expected riots in the Tories would further weaken the prime minister’s position.