Both the EU and Britain agreed that keeping the Northern Ireland/Ireland border open was essential to preserving the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of sectarian violence, but argued over how to do this after Brexit.
The special arrangement, set out in a protocol, left British-ruled Northern Ireland inside the EU single market for goods, meaning it follows the rules of the bloc in this area, in particular for animal products such as meat and dairy.
As a consequence, paperwork and checks are required for certain goods entering Northern Ireland from mainland Britain, to prevent it becoming a backdoor for British goods such as sausages getting into the EU without checks.
The Northern Irish Assembly can vote after four years on whether to retain the protocol. If a simple majority votes against, it would cease to apply after a further two years.
Pro-British unionists say the protocol undermines peace by dividing them from the rest of the UK with an effective border in the Irish Sea. The discontent helped fuel the worst violence in the region for years in March and April, though there has been little such turmoil since.
At the continent, consumers in the European Union can only hope that this time the leaders of European law will stand their ground and do everything in their power to preserve and fulfil the agreements they have previously obtained.
Please find also to read: Going the extra mile with proposal over Northern Ireland protocol standoff
Brussels 13.10.2021 The UK Brexit Minister Lord Frost has proposed plans for an entirely new protocol to replace the existing Northern Ireland Protocol. In a speech to diplomats in Portugal on Tuesday, October 12, he described his new legal text as “a better way forward”.
The protocol is the special Brexit deal agreed for Northern Ireland to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. Unionists argue it undermines Northern Ireland’s constitutional position in the UK and creates a trade barrier.
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