Lord Frost proposes new N.I. Protocol, EU immediately rejects any negotiation.
Boris tells the EU that the UK could legally invoke Art.16 now, proposes a new deal instead
Yesterday the ongoing saga of UK-EU relations delivered one surprise and one entirely predictable and obvious response. The ‘surprise’ was the radical nature of the UK Government’s latest proposals to the EU. The ‘obvious’ was that the rigid, authoritarian, dictatorial EU continued to be rigid, authoritarian, and dictatorial in their response.
Barely had Lord Frost and the N.I. Secretary Brandon Lewis sat down yesterday after their respective statements to the House of Lords and the House of Commons on the N.I. Protocol, than the EU’s Commissioner and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič sprang up in Brussels to declare.
We will not agree to a renegotiation of the Protocol.”
- EU Commission statement 21 Jul 2021
What is the UK Government now proposing to the EU?
This article summarises the UK Government’s 28-page ‘Command Paper’ setting out its proposals to alter the N.I. Protocol radically in order to make it work for the people of Northern Ireland and Great Britain — and to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
The 12 dramatic key points from the Command Paper on Northern Ireland
- “The circumstances exist to justify using Art. 16” suspending some terms of N.I. deal — but held in reserve
- “Fundamental issues” require “significant change to the Protocol”
- End to the European Court’s jurisdiction of N.I. Protocol, replaced with normal international arbitration
- Everything needs changing except Common Travel Area, all-island Single Electricity Market, and human rights
- Irish sea border to end — “Full customs and SPS processes are applied only to goods destined for the EU”
- “Goods made to UK rules and regulated by UK authorities to circulate freely in Northern Ireland”
- No agri-food checks between GB and NI, unless goods are destined for export to the EU
- Pets, nursery plants, etc to move freely
- Freedom to set VAT and excise rates and structures in Northern Ireland
- Elimination of export declarations for goods moving to Great Britain from Northern Ireland
- All GB medicines to be accepted in NI under UK regulatory standards
- No EU state aid rules except for UK subsidies “on a significant scale relating directly to Northern Ireland”
I have necessarily summarised the key points. The UK Government’s Command Paper naturally is more nuanced and pays lip service to the existing N.I. Protocol. The net effect of the proposed changes, however, represents a complete rewriting of many of the most fundamental areas.
The Prime Minister’s foreword to the Command Paper
Below are some excerpts from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s foreword to the Command Paper issued yesterday.
“It has already become clear that it is not possible to operate these arrangements in a way that can be sustained, particularly not in the inflexible way the EU seems to want.”
“The impact of the Protocol has been profound economically, politically, socially, and commercially. Within Northern Ireland it has placed strain on institutions which have already been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have begun to fear — wrongly — a growing separation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, notwithstanding the principle of consent enshrined in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”
“…It is increasingly clear that we cannot solve the problems simply by a rigid and unpurposive application of the Protocol in its current form. Indeed the difficulties are so profound that I have had to consider whether safeguarding action is necessary under the Article 16 framework which the Protocol provides.”
Bravo, Lord Frost. In effect, you have taken a significant number of the most egregious elements of this appalling Protocol and are proposing to scrap them on the basis of the damage they are doing to Northern Ireland and to the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
I would have gone much further of course and would have drafted a completely new document based on a common-sense approach to the particular conditions which exist in the province. This would place Northern Ireland once again under the laws of the United Kingdom, not a foreign and malevolent power, and would bring NI back fully into the Customs and Single Market territory of the UK.
Apoplexy in Brussels
Be that as it may, the Command Paper must have caused apoplexy amongst the Soviet-style Commissars in Brussels when they read it.
The EU Commission’s statement was issued almost immediately and it held no surprises. Lord Frost will have known this would happen, so we believe that the Government is finally getting ready to take firm action. No doubt the UK’s ambassadors around the world are being briefed on the UK’s attempts to resolve the worrying and dangerous situation which the EU has created in Northern Ireland. Based on past experience we hope that Dominic Raab will be putting a bomb under his diplomats in order to deliver this essential PR exercise, given that they have been almost entirely useless on anything Brexit-related up to this point.
The simple fact is that the authoritarian, dictatorial and unelected autocrats in Brussels have instantly refused even to negotiate seriously, despite being faced with demonstrable evidence of the effects on ordinary people and businesses that their absurd and anti-democratic imposition on the UK is having. What makes this even harder for the Commissars to defend is that they have used a sledgehammer to crack an almost non-existent nut.
Readers can access the full text of the 28-page Command Paper here.
Sources: Cabinet Office | EU Commission