Dispute escalation in Northern Ireland: The UK wants to breach the Brexit Treaty

Status: 14.06.2022 05:01

After months of threatening gestures, the British government wants to unilaterally change the Brexit rules for Northern Ireland agreed with Brussels. The EU immediately announced the consequences. The trade war does not seem out of the question.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tried in vain to push the British position on the Northern Ireland Protocol in phone calls with her Irish colleague Simon Coveney and the EU. But there was no rapprochement. In the evening, the Conservative government published its bill suspending parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Johnson is planning legislation to repeal the Northern Ireland Protocol

Valerie Krall, ARD London, daily topics 22:15, June 13, 2022

The Secretary of State emphasized that this was not a violation of any law: “We have real problems in Northern Ireland and with this law we are returning to the principles of the Good Friday Agreement, which is intended to bring stability.” At the same time, the United Kingdom protects the EU’s internal market, respects the basic principles of the Northern Ireland Protocol and is clearly moving within the framework of international law.

Four points for simplified trading

The British government cites four main points to facilitate trade between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. The “Green Trail” will lift customs controls on goods that remain in Northern Ireland. The EU fears that this could open up smuggling routes.

Businesses should also be able to market goods in Northern Ireland under the UK or EU Goods Regulation, says the UK government.

In addition, Northern Ireland must be able to benefit from the same tax breaks as the rest of the United Kingdom. Finally, disputes should be settled through independent arbitration, not through the European Court of Justice.

“Johnson has always been happy to run counter to the EU,” said Sven Lohmann of ARD London

daily topics 22:15, 13.6.2022

The EU is in imminent danger

The EU, and in particular the Republic of Ireland directly concerned, consider unilateral amendments to the negotiated Brexit Treaty to be a violation of international law. Irish Foreign Secretary Coveney told the BBC: The United Kingdom has usually been a role model when it comes to complying with and defending international law. “

“Unilateral measures are detrimental to mutual trust,” said European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefkovic. Brussels notes the British government’s decision “with great concern”. In any case, Brussels sees unilateral changes to the text as a violation of international law.

“As a first step”, the continuation of the lawsuit against the British government in March 2021 is now being considered, Šefkovic explained. “We suspended this process in September 2021 in a spirit of constructive cooperation to allow the space to seek common solutions. Unilateral action by the United Kingdom goes directly against this spirit.”

Chancellor Scholz spoke of a “very regrettable decision.” “It is a departure from all the agreements we have between the European Union and the United Kingdom.” US Secretary of State Blinken warned London not to jeopardize the success of the peace agreement for Northern Ireland and “continued negotiations with the EU in good faith.”

Johnson: It’s all about the details

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that Brussels will overreact if the EU responds to Britain’s legislative plans with a trade war. After all, it’s all about the details: “We can cut red tape at the UK-Northern Ireland border without creating it at the intra-Irish border.”

“The EU condemns British actions,” said Michael Grytz, ARD Brussels

daily topics 22:15, 13.6.2022

How much the Northern Ireland Protocol is really damaging the economy of Northern Ireland is debated. Part of the country is a member of both the EU internal market and the British market. Cross-border trade has increased significantly since the protocol was introduced. Stephen Kelly of the Manufacturing NI trade association sees few problems in the current agreements:

The reality for many companies, from grocery to production, is that the NI protocol works great. We need some small reforms, but not a wrecking ball like this law. “

British Trade Association warning

The British trade association CBI, which represents 190,000 companies across the country, warned that if the British government went it alone, it could prevent investment by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty that prevailed during the Brexit phase.

Opposition leader Keir Starmer of the Labor Party also criticized the bill: “There are minor problems, but we could solve them at the negotiating table – with confidence. But we do not have it with the current prime minister.”

Not just group approvals

Not everyone in the Conservative Group is behind the bill. Brexit supporters from the European Research Group worked on the formulation. Other Conservative MEPs, on the other hand, speak of “complete madness” and call for closer rapprochement with the EU on Brexit or even a return to the single market, given rising inflation and poor British economic data.

However, the government hopes the Queen will be able to sign the Northern Ireland Act before the summer break at the end of July. For example, critics expect months of dragging in the upper house.

The formation of the government in Northern Ireland was hampered

The dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol continues to prevent the formation of a government in Northern Ireland. Even before Truss presented the bill to Parliament, London called on the pro-British DUP to finally allow a government to form after the Belfast elections in early May. DUP has previously refused to participate on the grounds that the harmful protocol of Northern Ireland must first be repealed. DUP MP Sammy Wilson said they wanted to wait and see if the law would actually pass.

Even in remote Washington, the British government’s move is likely to raise eyebrows. Joe Biden, an American president with Irish roots, has always warned against London going for itself with regard to the Northern Ireland Protocol. The new bill is unlikely to speed up the post-Brexit bilateral trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom.

With information from Gabi Biesinger, ARD Studio London

The British government wants to repeal parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol

Gabi Biesinger, ARD London, 13/06/2022 21:12

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