Northern Ireland Protocol – Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
It has been reported that both the UK and EU have reached a crucial breakthrough over a customs deal for products destined for Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
The proposed plan that Brussels has accepted would avoid the need for routine checks on products going into the region and the role of the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) in the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, apparently agreeing that it will only rule on cases referred to it by Northern Irish courts.
There is still ongoing discussions around finalising the details surrounding veterinary checks, although it has been reported that no agreement has been reached as yet.
The UKs proposal to the issues surrounding customs in Northern Ireland, is to introduce a system of green and red lanes, where goods destined for Northern Ireland would be allowed into the region without routine checks, while goods for onward export into the Republic of Ireland would undergo customs formalities north of the border. Along with this the UK would provide relevant data on vehicle movements with the EU and agree that investigation processes be put in place for suspicious activity.
Even with this reported breakthrough, negotiations will still be required for a long-term agreement covering exports of meat, live animals and other produce to Northern Ireland, with the UK agreeing to uphold EU veterinary standards on goods exported to the province.
Many believe that this reported breakthrough is just another media tactic to keep the government out of firing point and until the process is passed through government, the solution is yet to be found. Although others feels that both the UK and EU are only now understanding the complexity of Northern Ireland and the complications that come with the customs implications and borders on the Island with both sides being more flexible in their discussions.
It is in the interested of both EU and UK administrations to reach an agreement on the trading arrangements before the 25th anniversary the historic Good Friday peace agreement on 10 April.
Will the light get brighter or will it go out… time will tell.