Britain plans to rewrite the Brexit agreement for Northern Ireland

The British government’s new approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol is outlined in Order paper Released on Wednesday, it represents a complete rewrite of the Brexit agreement reached by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with the European Union in October 2019.

In order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, the agreement establishes a trade border in the Irish Sea because it requires all goods shipped from the UK to Northern Ireland to comply with strict EU regulations, including customs and animal and plant inspection products.

The document makes five bold recommendations-the EU has already made these recommendations Signaled It is unlikely to accept it-radically reduce the number of border checks and take back the elements of British sovereignty ceded to the European Union in the original agreement.

These proposals draw on the solutions that have been rejected during the four-year negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on how to resolve the Brexit problem in Northern Ireland, and require a high degree of trust between the United Kingdom and the European Union to avoid the re-emergence of a hard border. Northern Ireland.

The “honest box” approach to boundaries

The British government argues that the current level of inspections of the Irish Sea borders-even though Northern Ireland only accounts for 0.5% of the EU’s population, it still accounts for 20% of all EU external border inspections-is “unsustainable”.

The document proposes a complete solution: cancel all inspections on goods shipped from the UK to Northern Ireland if the company self-certifies that its products do not intend to continue to be distributed or used in the EU.

The document states: “As long as companies agree to provide data to the EU and provide “full transparency” to their supply chain, there is no need for certification and inspection of individual items intended for consumption only in Northern Ireland.

The industry is skeptical. Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, said that the idea of ??the “honest box” approach is appealing on the surface, but it is difficult to extend to small businesses and wholesalers.

“Trusting merchants usually means trusting big merchants, and therefore favoring the needs of supermarkets. This idea will only perpetuate the huge injustices and distortions that exist today,” he said.

The “dual system” of UK and EU standards

In order to manage the different standards between the European Union and the United Kingdom after Brexit, the government has proposed a “comprehensive dual regulatory system” that allows products with different EU and British standards to circulate freely side by side in Northern Ireland.

Products manufactured in accordance with British standards that do not comply with EU rules will be clearly marked as “NI Only”, but any goods shipped to Ireland and the EU single market need to comply with EU rules and follow EU customs procedures.

The UK argued that given the volume of trade in Northern Ireland, the overall risk of the EU single market is “controllable and acceptable”. To reassure the EU, it also promised “stronger” law enforcement measures and “strengthened forums” to conduct market surveillance to catch smugglers.

But William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chamber of Commerce, said that the plan would be problematic in Brussels because it actually requires the EU to “subcontract” the borders of its single market and customs union to the UK.

“It looks like it is neither negotiable nor legally feasible, because the European Union will rely entirely on British supervision and enforcement, and the European Court of Justice will not accept this. The European Union will not do this with other neighboring countries (such as Ukraine),” He added.

Cancel any export declaration

The order document also seeks to remove the need to make any “export declarations” for goods shipped from Northern Ireland to the UK, in line with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s repeated promise that no paperwork is required. This is to keep Northern Irish companies “unrestricted access” to the internal UK market.

In a compromise agreement negotiated last year, the European Union agreed to waive the need for formal export declarations for goods leaving Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom, and agreed to collect data through shipping lists and other routes.

But the British government now argues that even this has created “onerous new requirements” for businesses in Northern Ireland, and hopes to “completely abolish” these requirements, except for a few controlled and dangerous goods.

Rewrite Article 10 on State Aid

The government also hopes to radically rewrite the controversial Article 10 of the Protocol, which requires that any British government subsidy decision that may affect Northern Ireland’s merchandise trade must comply with EU state aid rules.

Brexitists believe that Article 10 is an insult to British sovereignty because its scope is so broad that the European Commission has the ability to intervene in the British government’s subsidy decisions, which only indirectly involve Northern Ireland.

The government argues that it has now issued a Subsidy Control Bill To formulate a new subsidy system after Brexit, Article 10 is “superfluous” in its current form and should only be applied to larger subsidies “directly related to Northern Ireland”.

Alexander Ross, an EU competition expert at DWF Law Firm, said that the new UK legislation does provide at least part of the reason to reconsider Article 10.

“Considering the guarantees provided and the new subsidy control bill, the two parties should meet and develop a new system,” Ross said, noting that the agreement contains a clause that can repeal Article 10 without reopening the rest of the agreement. Article.

Writ of the European Court of Justice to end the agreement

Finally, the UK wants to cancel the rights of the EU and its courts to enforce the main content of the agreement-the UK called this situation “very unusual”, but the EU believes this is essential because Northern Ireland must comply with a large number of EU laws under the agreement.

The United Kingdom requires the protocol to be governed by the “normal treaty framework”, similar to the framework used in the trade and cooperation agreement-the EU and the United Kingdom agreed in December last year and entered into force on January 1 of the post-Brexit agreement, passed if necessary International arbitration resolves any disputes.

George Peretz QC of Monckton Chambers stated that the European Union would certainly not agree to this because the European Court of Justice is the sole arbitrator of EU law.

“It’s very simple. It is not possible to prevent products that circulate freely in Northern Ireland from entering the EU single market, but these products will not be controlled by institutions that enforce single market rules. It is difficult for the EU to agree to this,” he said.

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