Northern Ireland Protocol

Context:

  • Ireland’s Foreign Minister on Wednesday said the U.K. risked a breach of international law if it scraps the trade rules it signed with the EU for Northern Ireland.
  • The UK government has hinted that it may pull out of a deal made with the European Union over post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Background:

  • The Northern Ireland Protocol was included in the United Kingdom’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union. Checks on products entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are necessary under its rules.
  • Since its implementation at the start of 2021, the protocol has caused friction not only between the UK and the EU, but also among unionists in Northern Ireland, who see it as a threat to their status within the UK.
  • After the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union in 2016, Northern Ireland required special arrangements. This is due to the fact that it is the only part of the UK with a land border with an EU country – Ireland.

What’s in the protocol?

  • The convention stipulated that all inspections and document checks would take place between Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) rather than on the road over the Irish border.
  • Northern Ireland ports would conduct checks on British products to ensure compliance with EU regulations.
  • Furthermore, Northern Ireland would continue to adhere to EU product standards (which are part of the EU’s single market rules).

Why opposition?

  • Unionist parties reject the convention, claiming that building a border across the Irish Sea would jeopardise Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom.
  • The United Kingdom wants a number of changes, including the elimination of border inspections and paperwork between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, as well as ensuring that goods sold in Northern Ireland must only fulfil British standards and not EU regulations.

Source: THE HINDU.

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