London says the Northern Ireland protocol is “unsustainable”. And Brussels responds that “it is not renegotiable”. The Northern Ireland protocol, which generates border controls between two parts of the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland and Great Britain), has become, after the Brexit transition period, a major problem for Downing Street. In fact, it was already warned by former Prime Minister Theresa May, when she said that “no British leader” would accept it. And he was right in deferred: Boris Johnson overthrew his government, rewrote the Brexit agreement, introduced this protocol and, when it comes to applying it, he dedicates himself to unilaterally extending the moratoriums and, in addition, to saying that it is “unsustainable.”
This Thursday, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke to address the crisis unleashed on Wednesday by the British document in which the British desire to rewrite the Brexit agreement advanced in relation to the protocol, with the threat of resorting to Brexit clauses that can annul it. “The first Minister [Boris Johnson] has spoken with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, this morning “, British sources explain:” They have spoken of the document of the United Kingdom on the Protocol of Northern Ireland published yesterday [por el miércoles], and noted that the way the protocol currently works was unsustainable. No solutions could be found through existing mechanisms. That is why we have submitted proposals for significant changes. ”
According to Downing Street, Johnson has urged the EU “to take these proposals seriously and to work with the UK. There is a great opportunity to find practical and reasonable solutions to the difficulties faced by individuals and businesses in Northern Ireland. North and thus improve the relationship between the UK and the EU. ”
The European Commission, for its part, through its president, Ursula von der Leyen, has insisted that the protocol “will not be renegotiated”, although it appeals to be “creative and flexible”, which augurs long negotiations on a Brexit which was voted in a referendum in 2016.
Already on March 15, the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against the United Kingdom. Then, the Community Executive sent a letter to the British Government that supposes a “formal notification to the United Kingdom for violating the substantive provisions of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as the obligation of good faith under the Agreement of Withdrawal of Brexit” says Brussels. This notice marks the beginning of a formal infringement process against the UK. “It is the second time in the space of six months that the Government of the United Kingdom is willing to violate international law,” says the Community Executive.
If this time it has to do with unilaterally extending the moratorium on customs controls in the Irish Sea, the first had to do with the Internal Market bill, which also rewrote the Brexit agreement.
That is to say, the EU is going to the European Justice, which it already did the previous time, with Boris Johnson’s Internal Market bill that also rewrote the Brexit agreement and ended up withdrawing.
The paradox is that precisely the problems that are emerging with Ireland have to do with Boris Johnson. In other words, Theresa May’s Brexit was less harsh, so that Northern Ireland and Great Britain remained in the EU customs union, thus avoiding the border in the Irish Sea and only had to find a technological solution to do that the passage between the two Irish women was invisible to respect the Good Friday Agreement.
Thus, the Irish protocol, the fruit of Johnson’s efforts, creates so many problems that it is not being applied.
Meanwhile, Brussels and London are trying to negotiate a way out but the solution is complicated because the protocol says what it says. Thus, the British Government threatens not to comply with it unless it is modified. That is, it threatens to skip the Brexit agreement, which it already did at the end of last year with the British Internal Market bill, which was finally modified so as not to violate the Brexit agreement in what had to do with the aforementioned Northern Ireland protocol.
Indeed, in the 28-page document distributed this Wednesday, Johnson’s government states: “The Protocol is not standing by, but significant changes are needed to achieve a sustainable ‘new balance’ that places the relationship between the UK and the EU on a stable footing. This is the only way to ensure the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday) “.
The EU negotiator, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, has responded with a refusal to “rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol” with a note: “The Protocol on Ireland is the solution that the EU found with the Prime Minister. Boris Johnson and Lord David Frost, and was ratified by the UK Parliament, to address the unique challenges posed by Brexit and the type of Brexit chosen by the British Government for the island of Ireland. Its aim is to protect the Friday Agreement Santo (Belfast) in all its parts, maintain peace and stability in Northern Ireland, avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and preserve the integrity of the EU single market. the Protocol. Respect for international legal obligations is of utmost importance. ”
Downing Street assures that “the Government has tried to apply the Protocol in good faith, but the problems are significant and growing. Therefore, the Government wants to agree on a sustainable solution that achieves a new balance that better reflects the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland and comply with all the objectives of the Protocol The economic, political and cultural ties that exist East-West [Irlanda del Norte-Gran Bretaña] they must be treated with the same sensitivity as those that exist North-South. This is essential to ensure that UK-EU relations are on a stable and more positive trajectory. ”
In this sense, the Johnson Government threatens not to comply with the agreement: “The Command Paper makes it clear that the Government has considered activating Article 16 [que exime el cumplimiento del protocolo] and believes that there are clear reasons to justify its use. This option remains within the framework of the Protocol. However, we do not believe that it is beneficial for Northern Ireland to invoke safeguard measures at this time. We would prefer to seek a consensual approach with the EU, to agree on stable and lasting solutions that can work for Northern Ireland, the UK in general and the EU in the future. ”