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UK proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

The UK Government’s proposal to the EU for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland was presented on 2 October 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-proposals-for-a-new-protocol-on-irelandnorthern-ireland

The Prime Minister wrote to Donald Tusk on 19 August 2019 setting out the UK’s position on the renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as this government’s desired final destination for a long-term relationship with the EU. Since then, the government has pursued discussions with the European Union on alternatives to the previous Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, the so-called ‘backstop’.

This letter to the President of the European Commission and accompanying explanatory note, sent on 02 October 2019, set out the government’s proposal for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Dear Jean-Claude,

A Fair and Reasonable Compromise: UK Proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

There is now very little time in which to negotiate a new Agreement between the UK and the EU under Article 50. We need to get this done before the October European Council.

This Government wants to get a deal, as I am sure we all do. If we cannot reach one, it would represent a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible. Our predecessors have tackled harder problems: we can surely solve this one.

Both sides now need to consider whether there is sufficient willingness to compromise and move beyond existing positions to get us to an agreement in time. We are ready to do that, and this letter sets out what I regard as a reasonable compromise: the broad landing zone in which I believe a deal can begin to take shape.

Our proposed compromise removes the so-called “backstop” in the previous Withdrawal Agreement. I have explained the difficulties with this elsewhere, including the fact that it has been rejected three times by the UK Parliament. Equally importantly in this context, the backstop acted as a bridge to a proposed future relationship with the EU in which the UK would be closely integrated with EU custom arrangements and would align with EU law in many areas. That proposed future relationship is not the goal of the current UK Government. The Government intends that the future relationship should be based on a Free Trade Agreement in which the UK takes control of its own regulatory affairs and trade policy. In these circumstances the proposed “backstop” is a bridge to nowhere, and a new way forward must be found.

Accordingly we are now proposing a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. We are delivering the draft legal text of this Protocol to Task Force 50 today. I attach an explanatory note giving further detail of the proposal and I am making this letter and that note public today.

It is based around five elements:

Avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland in a no deal scenario

by Politicker 0 Comments

The UK Government has set out its approach to avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March.

Published: 13 March 2019
Last updated: 14 March 2019

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-exit-avoiding-a-hard-border-in-northern-ireland-in-a-no-deal-scenario

Contents

  • Compliance with international legal obligations
  • Protecting the biosecurity of the island of Ireland
  • Avoiding the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses
  • Where can I find more information?

The unique social, political and economic circumstances of Northern Ireland must be reflected in any arrangements that apply in a no deal scenario.

This government is committed to the Belfast Agreement and to do everything in our power to ensure no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Today we are confirming a strictly unilateral, temporary approach to checks, processes and tariffs in Northern Ireland. This would apply if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29 March.

The UK government would not introduce any new checks or controls on goods at the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, including no customs requirements for nearly all goods.

The UK temporary import tariff announced today would therefore not apply to goods crossing from Ireland into Northern Ireland.

We would only apply a small number of measures strictly necessary to comply with international legal obligations, protect the biosecurity of the island of Ireland, or to avoid the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses – but these measures would not require checks at the border.

Because these are unilateral measures, they only mitigate the impacts from exit that are within the UK government’s control. These measures do not set out the position in respect of tariffs or processes to be applied to goods moving from Northern Ireland to Ireland.

UK Government commitments to NI

The UK Government published a paper that outlines UK Government commitments to Northern Ireland and its integral place in the United Kingdom. It describes a package of measures to give Northern Ireland a strong voice and role in the backstop process including a new Stormont lock to give Northern Ireland the power to reject new EU laws and regulation in the backstop.

Available at

NI Unilateral Commitments

(copy)

Attorney General to PM on the NI Protocol, 14 January 2019

Publication of a letter from the Attorney General to the Prime Minister on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Attorney General wrote to the Prime Minister regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol in response to the letters exchanged between the Prime Minister and the Presidents of the European Commission and Council setting out assurances and clarifications with regard to the Northern Ireland backstop.

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