On December 24, 2020, the Brexit agreement was signed in extremis. And on October 12, 2021, the Government of Boris Johnson has decreed that it is dead paper. Specifically, with regard to one of the most sensitive issues, the Northern Ireland protocol, which was drawn up as is at the request of Boris Johnson’s own government. A government that arises after elections that came after Theresa May was overthrown, precisely because Theresa May did not want to sign the protocol that Johnson demanded and that now seems “disturbing” and “highly damaging”.
Of course, the protocol itself has not yet entered into force because the British Government has unilaterally approved successive moratoriums. And what is the problem for Downing Street? That the protocol, as May well advised, comes from the United Kingdom in two through the Irish Sea, by establishing customs controls in Northern Ireland for goods that cross from the island of Great Britain to the island of Ireland.
Thus, the British minister for Brexit, David Frost, announced this Tuesday from Lisbon that he had sent a new legal text to Brussels, “because the protocol must change yes or yes.”
The new London proposal establishes a new dispute resolution mechanism, outside the jurisdiction of the CJEU as established in the current document, and that “English goods can circulate without problem throughout the United Kingdom”, that is, there are no customs controls in Northern Ireland. However, the problem is that, to preserve the Good Friday Peace Accords, the border between Northern Ireland (UK) and the Republic of Ireland (EU Member State) must be invisible. And the EU single market rules cannot allow goods from a non-EU country to enter EU territory without control.
Hence, in the protocol negotiated with May, rapid controls were established at the border of the two Irish, but of less intensity and fewer products because a softer Brexit was established, with the United Kingdom within the customs union.
Frost has not hesitated in his intervention in once again threatening with the unilateral suspension of the Northern Ireland protocol. “If Article 16 were activated, it would be up to the EU to retaliate or not. And it would not be good for Northern Ireland if the EU did.”
Although the United Kingdom is challenging the signed agreement, Frost has defended: “We always sign treaties in good faith, and we intend to apply them. We knew that some aspects of the protocol were problematic. We did not support them, but we agreed with them. as it was the right thing to do for the country as a whole. If the EU insists on no change, it must remember that Northern Ireland is not EU territory, it is our responsibility to safeguard peace and prosperity, and Article 16 it is still an option. ”
According to Frost, “the protocol is not working, it has completely lost support in Northern Ireland, it is not doing what it was created to do: protect the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. In fact, you are doing the opposite and this has to change. We need the EU to show the same ambition and willingness to address the fundamental issues at the heart of the protocol “,
“The role of the EU Court of Justice and the EU institutions in Northern Ireland is creating a situation where it is unclear on how the provisions of the protocol are implemented,” said Frost: “How much does it cost to the EU launch a new protocol? Very little. There is no threat to the single market in what we are proposing. ”
Frost himself has even taken advantage of the challenge of the Polish Constitutional Court, some Karlsruhe rulings on the role of the ECB or the speech of the French right and extreme right against the CJEU: “We look with fascination at the debates that somehow echo of ours, like that of Poland, Germany and even now France on the role of the Court of Justice. ”