Lord Frost provides update on Northern Ireland protocol
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Express.co.uk analysis of the Protocol suggests of the 19 articles in the Brexit agreement, three will need to be overhauled to meet the UK’s demands. Lord Frost unveiled a 28-page command paper on Wednesday indicating areas of the international treaty that must be re-negotiated in order to save the deal.
Lord Frost warned Britain “cannot go on” with the deal being implemented in its current form.
He warned the threshold had been met for the UK to trigger the legal mechanisms outlined in the deal in Article 16 to suspend the Protocol if the EU refused to engage in talks over its demands.
He said: “It is clear that the circumstances exist to justify the use of Article 16.
“Nevertheless, we have concluded it is not the right moment to do so.
“Instead, we see an opportunity to proceed differently, to find a new path, to seek to agree with the EU through negotiations a new balance in our arrangements covering Northern Ireland to the benefit of all.”
The EU has so far rejected the demands.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday: “The EU will continue to be creative and flexible within the Protocol framework.
“But we will not renegotiate.
“We must jointly ensure stability and predictability in Northern Ireland.”
The statement puts the UK on a collision course with Brussels, with articles 5, 10 and 12 of the Protocol all requiring changes to meet Lord Frost’s demands.
Article 5 of the Northern Ireland Protocol relates to “customs and movement of goods”.
It outlines the requirement for the bureaucratic paperwork that has caused so much friction for businesses looking to export from Britain to Northern Ireland.
It says: “a good brought into Northern Ireland from outside the Union shall be considered to be at risk of subsequently being moved into the Union unless it is established that that good: will not be subject to commercial processing in Northern Ireland; or fulfils the criteria established by the Joint Committee.”
The rules essentially mean all goods crossing the Irish Sea will be subjected to customs checks, regardless of their final destination.
Goods sold by supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s are subjected to the checks even though they have no stores in the Republic of Ireland and are therefore at minimal risk of entering the EU’s single market.
Under Lord Frost’s proposals, a new trust regime would be put in place.
All checks on goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be removed if the business self-certifies its products are not intended for distribution in the EU.
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Article 10 of the Northern Ireland Protocol refers to “state aid”.
The sub-section indicates that Northern Ireland will continue to be forced to abide by EU rules on state subsidies, even though the UK has left the trade bloc.
It outlines EU state aid rules “shall apply to the United Kingdom, including with regard to measures supporting the production of and trade in agricultural products in Northern Ireland, in respect of measures which affect that trade between Northern Ireland and the Union which is subject to this Protocol”.
If the European Commission believes the UK has acted unlawfully under EU law in giving state aid to Northern Ireland, Brussels can intervene.
Lord Frost argues the terms of the UK’s Subsidy Control Bill mean Article 10 is no longer necessary as Britain has introduced its own state aid rules that are similar to those of the EU.
Article 12 of the international treaty is about “implementation, application, supervision and enforcement” of the Protocol.
It says it will be the responsibility of the UK to ensure Northern Ireland continues to meet the necessary provisions of EU law.
Should the EU believe the UK has breached rules set by Brussels, the Commission can launch legal action.
“The Court of Justice of the European Union shall have the jurisdiction provided for in the Treaties in this respect,” according to the Protocol.
Lord Frost’s proposals for treaty change would see the EU’s Court of Justice removed as the body responsible for enforcing the Protocol.
He says he wants to adopt a “normal” treaty framework in which an independent arbitrator oversees the Protocol.
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