The Northern Ireland Protocol actually came into force on January 1st, but the British government had repeatedly postponed it. Now it threatens to use an “emergency clause”.
The British government is threatening again with the suspension of the customs regulations laid down in the Northern Ireland Protocol. Brexit Minister David Frost will announce in his speech at the Tories’ congress on Monday that “the threshold for the application of Article 16” has been reached, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a statement by the conservative ruling party on Sunday. The Northern Ireland Protocol is one of the most contentious issues in post-Brexit relations between Brussels and London.
Frost will warn in his speech that “the protocol is now undermining the Good Friday Agreement and that the threshold for the application of Article 16 has been reached,” it said. The UK government wants to renegotiate the protocol despite the EU’s refusal. As a result, London has threatened to trigger Article 16 several times. This allows certain parts of the post-Brexit agreement to be suspended in the event of “serious economic, social or ecological difficulties”.
EU accuses British blockade
The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit Agreement and is intended to ensure that no border controls between Northern Ireland, which belongs to the United Kingdom, and the EU member Ireland are necessary. An open border between the two parts of the Irish island is a prerequisite for maintaining the fragile peace in the former civil war region.
Instead, checks must now be carried out when goods are brought from England, Scotland or Wales to Northern Ireland. That creates difficulties for which both sides hold each other responsible. In London it is said that the protocol cannot be implemented, but the EU accuses the British of blocking.
“Sausage War” is being extended
The protocol is particularly problematic with regard to food of animal origin. The British press therefore dubbed the dispute “the sausage war”. Meat and sausage products from Great Britain should not have been brought to Northern Ireland since July. But both sides agreed at the time to extend the grace period until the end of September, which the British government then unilaterally extended.
The protocol actually came into force on January 1st, when the UK left the EU internal market. However, full customs declarations are not expected to come until 2022. In September, however, London had already announced that it would postpone the introduction of full border controls for goods from the EU, which was planned as a result of Brexit, for an indefinite period. According to the government, the review of food and animal products, which are intended to protect against disease, will be postponed from January to July next year.