Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has set out plans for legislation that would allow the UK government to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The legislation is set to be introduced in the coming weeks according to Truss and will fix the elements of the protocol that aren’t working, including movement of goods, goods regulation, VAT, subsidy control and governance.
Meanwhile it will “cement” certain protocol provisions which are working. These include the Common Travel Area, the Single Electricity Market and North-South [Ireland] cooperation.
The legislation will include:
- the introduction of two channels for goods movements:
A green lane for trusted traders transporting goods to NI only. Such goods movements will be exempt from checks and customs controls, thereby freeing them from “unnecessary bureaucracy” removing “regulatory barriers to goods made to UK standards being sold in Northern Ireland”, Truss said
A red lane for products destined for the EU, i.e., the Republic of Ireland. These goods will have to undergo full checks and customs controls under EU law
- New dual regulatory regime: businesses will be able to choose between meeting UK or EU standards
Truss said the government was confident the move is legal, and that businesses and residents of NI would be consulted before any changes are made.
However, Maros Sefcovic, vice president of the European Commission, said that if the UK goes ahead with such unilateral action, then the EU “will need to respond with all measures at its disposal”.
According to The Guardian , such measures could include:
- Cancelling the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) using articles 770 and 779, which allow the EU to terminate the entire trade agreement
- Invoking article 521 [i.e. – the trade parts] of the TCA. According to The Guardian, this allows the EU to suspend the trade parts of the TCA, leaving all the other areas agreed last December, including visa-free holidays and police cooperation, intact.
- Immediate fish wars: TCA article 506, paragraph 2 allowing the EU to “suspend, in whole or in part”, access to its waters.
A video of the announcement can be viewed here