Northern Ireland is waiting for a solution to its protocol problems

This content was published on Dec 30, 2021 – 09:15

Javier Aja

Dublin, December 30 (EFE). Northern Ireland closes in 2021, the first year of Brexit, with great doubts about the impact of this divorce in the British province, as London and Brussels are expected to reach an agreement in 2022 to adjust the work of the controversial protocol for the region.

This mechanism kept the border open between Ireland – key to their economy and peace process – but imposed customs controls on goods arriving in Ulster from Great Britain (Scotland, Wales and England), with a new bureaucratic burden causing product shortages in the region and political tensions.

The UK and EU are now resuming contacts to address solutions proposed by Brussels, in what poses a challenge to Britain’s new negotiator, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who must meet tougher Brexit demands. , like the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), meanwhile avoided an abrupt end to negotiations that brings the specter of Brexit back on the table.

In his first remarks after David Frost’s succession this month, Truss wanted to convey that there was “continuity” in the British position, as evidenced by the fact that he “intentionally mentioned” Article 16, the provision of protocol that allows one party to unilaterally At Queen’s University Belfast, Efe has the right to comment on some provisions they consider extremely harmful.

London is betting on diplomacy

“However, there has been a change of personalities and, in addition, the position of the Brexit negotiator is now integrated into foreign affairs, which means that there will be some adjustments in the relationship between London and Brussels,” says the expert.

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He also believes that Truss will show his “strength and ability” if he reaches an agreement with the EU more than Article 16.

Hayward asserts that Frost was “willing to activate it”, while the British chief of diplomacy would not, perhaps, want “to initiate this task by increasing tension”.

In his opinion, Frost had “finally given the impression” that he was “softening his position” in relation to the British demand that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) Convention be scrapped entirely from the agreement, one of the most thorny courts. Questions on the table and “very important” to the former negotiator.

As London and Brussels continue negotiations, Northern Ireland parties prepare for regional elections.

Although it is due next spring, it could be introduced if the DUP abandons the power-sharing government with the Nationalists, as it has threatened in the absence of substantive changes to the protocol.

Instability in Northern Ireland

“The DUP feels a little exposed by Frost’s departure, because he assured them that he would be tough with the EU and that he would fundamentally alter the workings of the Protocol or even abolish it entirely,” Hayward said.

But unionists are not facing this election year from a position of strength. They have been weakened by the problems – real or perceived – caused by Brexit, as well as the internal division caused by leadership struggles last May.

In this context, Sinn Féin, the already inactive former political arm of the IRA, could become, for the first time in the county’s history, the most voted formation and could even be overtaken by the DUP by other union parties, according to some. Surveys.

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Protocol divides northern companies

In fact, 2021 was a year of “obvious halves, like a football game,” says Stephen Kelly, CEO of Manufacturing Ireland Northern Ireland (MNI).

“Companies that do export have had a great year because they have access to local markets in the European Union and Britain. However, companies that depend on the supply chain with Great Britain have suffered from increased bureaucracy and controls. One in five manufacturers tells us that their suppliers are no longer In Great Britain they would like to send products to Northern Ireland,” says Kelly.

The businessman noted that exports from Northern Ireland to the south of the island grew by 60% in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2020, while exports from Ireland to the British province increased by 48% in the same period. EFE

Ja / Fig / JGB

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