Northern Ireland Protocol – Update (May, 2022)

The Northern Ireland Protocol is becoming a point of tension between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK).

Where is Northern Ireland located?

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom (UK). It shares a border with the Republic of Ireland (a member of the EU).

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The protocol is a part of the UK’s Brexit agreement with the European Union (EU). Before Brexit, there was no need for checks or paperwork to transport goods across the UK-Republic of Ireland border because both countries are part of the EU. But after Brexit, checks, and paperwork is required at the border as the EU has strict rules.

However, as per the Northern Ireland Protocol, instead of the Northern Ireland – Republic of Ireland border, inspections and document checks will be conducted at the Northern Ireland- Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) border. Northern Ireland continues to follow EU rules on product standards.

Who is opposing the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The protocol is opposed by unionists in Northern Ireland. Unionists are those who want Northern Ireland to remain within the UK.

What are the changes demanded by the UK?

  • Getting rid of checks between Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland.
  • Goods that remain in Northern Ireland only need to meet the standards of the UK.
  • Removing the role the European Commission and the European Court of Justice have in overseeing the working of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

What are the proposals of the EU in response to the demands of the UK?

  • 80% reduction in checks on food products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and 50% reduction in the amount of paperwork.
  • Reducing the customs information that organizations need to provide.
  • Allowing continuing the trade in medicines between Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland by bringing a law.
  • Relaxing rules so chilled meats can be sent across the Irish Sea.

However, the EU demanded extra safeguards in return to prevent products from Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) from entering the Republic of Ireland (a member of the EU). But the United Kingdom (UK) rejected this offer.

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