What is Article 16 and what happens if it is triggered?
The tension between the UK and the EU is Rise again The implementation of Northern Ireland’s trade arrangements after Brexit and negotiations on possible reforms seem to be deadlocked.
Simon Covini, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ireland warn Last weekend, if the UK fulfilled its promise, the entire EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement may be terminated. threat Trigger Article 16 and fundamentally rewrite pAgreement on Northern IrelandThe agreement is part of the EU-UK withdrawal agreement and was agreed to avoid the restoration of the North-South trade border on the island of Ireland.
At the same time, tensions in Northern Ireland are increasing, mainly because the Protestant Unity Party rejected the agreement there.Two buses have been on fire In the past week, there has been a clear protest against the agreement.
Why did Article 16 become so controversial? How does it affect the relationship between the EU and the UK more broadly?
What is Article 16?
This is a safeguard clause in the Northern Ireland Protocol. If either party believes that the arrangement causes “serious economic, social or environmental difficulties” or “trade diversion”, either party can trigger the clause.
The United Kingdom stated that the threshold has been reached due to the trade frictions caused by the agreement, and the agreement requires all goods entering Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom to comply with EU rules.
Although Boris Johnson agreed to this arrangement in October 2019, the British government now says that the damage it caused far exceeds expectations at the time and needs to be fundamentally rewritten.
British ministers also argued that trade union groups have lost confidence in the protocol and that its continued implementation may undermine the already fragile political stability of the region.
What parts of the agreement does the UK want to change and why?
In order to reduce the friction of the agreement on the border of the Irish Sea, the United Kingdom requires the use of the “honest box” method to inspect goods entering from the United Kingdom. This means that only goods shipped south to the Republic of Ireland will face inspection. London also requested the cancellation of any paperwork related to shipments from Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom.
In addition, London requires that the European Court of Justice no longer has the power to enforce the main content of the protocol, and hopes to replace it with a “treaty-based” arbitration mechanism. The European Union rejected this request, arguing that because Northern Ireland follows the EU’s cargo rules and regulations, only the European Court of Justice can rule on its application.
The European Union has proposed to reduce customs and health checks on the borders of the Irish Sea, but the United Kingdom says this proposal is far from enough.
Why does Article 16 become a problem for the EU?
If the United Kingdom fails to maintain an effective border in the Irish Sea, and Ireland does not have a north-south trade border—both sides believe it is necessary to maintain the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to the island—then this will create a single backdoor entry into the European Union market.
Brussels believes that if there is no comprehensive legal control over animal and plant products, Ireland’s position in the EU single market will be compromised, because its products are no longer trustworthy and may need to be inspected when entering the EU. Therefore, the United Kingdom will threaten Ireland’s economic rights as a member of the European Union. This may be considered intolerable by the other 26 EU member states.
As far as Britain is concerned, this concern is exaggerated. It believes that market surveillance by both parties can resolve concerns about any non-compliant products flowing into Ireland through Northern Ireland, and that the actual risks of British products to the EU single market are negligible.
How will Article 16 affect trade?
Once the UK informs the European Commission that it intends to trigger Article 16, including what measures it intends to take to resolve “serious economic, social or environmental difficulties”, the two sides will immediately hold consultations to discuss the UK’s proposal.
These measures cannot take effect within one month, unless under “special circumstances”, the UK believes that immediate action is required. Crucially, Article 16 states that any action taken must be limited to “absolutely necessary to correct the situation”.
Therefore, Brussels’ response will depend on the widespread use of Article 16 in the United Kingdom. If London finds that there are specific problems with the agreement-such as the ability to trade chilled meat or plant products with Northern Ireland-the EU may take limited measures to address the impact in these areas.
However, if the United Kingdom uses Article 16 to suspend key parts of the agreement-such as Articles 5 and 7, which form the basis for keeping Northern Ireland in the EU Single Commodity Market-then Brussels has already hinted that it may take more steps. Stern action.
For example, it may argue that because the EU-UK trade agreement always presupposes that London first resolve the Northern Ireland border issue, any decision by the UK to cancel the agreement would undermine the entire basis of the EU trade and cooperation agreement. .
According to the TCA, either party must give a notice of termination 12 months in advance before it can resume trading in accordance with the terms of the World Trade Organization. This will effectively create another “no agreement” on the edge of the cliff, during which Brussels wants Britain to return to the negotiating table.
Or, Brussels could take smaller steps to impose targeted tariffs on sensitive products such as cars, whiskey or fish in the UK.
Will there be longer-term consequences?
If the two sides fail to agree on reforms to make the protocol work, economic and political relations may be severely broken.
The deterioration of relations may also extend to foreign affairs and cooperation in a range of fields, from data streams to pan-EU scientific research projects.
The trade war will also cause unemployment in the EU, especially in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, which still have great economic ties with the UK.The EU has 5 billion euros reserved To compensate governments and companies that have suffered economic blows due to Brexit.
As seen in the four years following the 2016 Brexit referendum, trading under WTO terms may also hinder investment and undermine UK business confidence.