The UK and the European Union are engaged in a real showdown on this thorny issue.
The new British Prime Minister Liz Truss said she was on Wednesday 7 September “determined“working with”all partsto resolve the crisis linked to Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit status, saying they prefer “a negotiated solutionin the showdown with the European Union.
The Northern Irish Protocol, negotiated at the time of Brexit, creates a de facto customs border between the island of Great Britain and the British province, complicating supplies and angering unionists linked to membership in the United Kingdom.
Faced with the blockade of local political institutions and after months of fruitless negotiations, London has introduced a law, currently under parliamentary review, to unilaterally revoke some key provisions of this agreement, attracting threats of commercial reprisals from Brussels. “We need to solve the problems of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has damaged the balance between the communities of Northern IrelandLiz Truss said during her first question and answer session in parliament as head of government.
“I am determined to do so and determined to work with all parties to find a solution.she added. My preference is for a negotiated solution, but then it has to incorporate the elements of our Northern Ireland Protocol legislation“.
“We cannot let this drag on because my number one priority is to protect the supremacy of the Good Friday Agreement.“, Which in 1998 ended three decades of conflict between unionists, mainly Protestants, and mainly Catholic republicans in favor of reunification with the Republic of Ireland, he insisted.
Seven infringement proceedings against London
The protocol was designed to achieve a twofold objective: to protect the integrity of the European single market and to avoid the return of a land border that could undermine peace. For several months, trade unionists have refused to form a local executive, which would have to be shared with the now majority Sinn Fein Republicans, if the text is not challenged.
The European Commission has launched a total of seven infringement procedures against London for non-compliance with the protocol. However, the text was never fully implemented because grace periods on controls were introduced and extended for products such as non-frozen meat or medicines.
This dispute is also at the center of tensions between London and Washington, and the subject was raised on Tuesday evening during the first telephone conversation between Liz Truss and Joe Biden, of Irish descent.