Protocol of Ireland: The doubts and weaknesses of an indispensable agreement

In some relevant days for the evolution of the present and future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, these are the keys and the ess

Protocol of Ireland: The doubts and weaknesses of an indispensable agreement

In some relevant days for the evolution of the present and future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, these are the keys and the essence of so appointed and mentioned Irish Protocol.

What is the Irish protocol?

This is known to the series of customs or phytosanitary controls, regulatory requirements and inspections of goods that have been launched between Ireland and Northern Ireland to avoid hard boundaries after Brexit's consummation. By leaving the UK the EU, Northern Ireland should have also been completely outside the EU or the single market, but to preserve peace and not generate a huge problem, a mechanism was sought. The initial idea, agreed with Theresa May, was the so-called 'Backstop', a guarantee that if things became ugly after separation, every United Kingdom would end more or less under a certain European umbrella, rules or jurisdiction of the Court of Justice Community Boris Johnson rejected that option and preferred to put Northern Ireland in a unique situation, which is generating problems.

What has the EU announced?

He has announced a series of measures to lighten the controls. The political and social situation in Northern Ireland is delicate. Brexit has caused many British suppliers no longer to operate with the area, because the operating cost is greater than controls and paperwork. Unionists feel farther than ever from their homeland. There are tensions in the streets and complaints of the entrepreneurs. The EU is not willing to forget about the Protocol, as I would like London, and leave everything in the hands of good faith and goodwill. But it is willing to reduce customs paperwork by up to 50% and phytosanitary controls up to 80%, if a series of guarantees are respected and safeguards are applied. Now London, who has systematically breached the agreement and is neither controlling or giving access to the databases, must answer what seems to the idea and negotiate to try in the coming months an agreement that allows alleviating tensions and ending the worst Expatients.

In what fields are there measures?

Sanitary controls, customs exams, the location of regulatory centers for medicines and promoting direct dialogue to the main Northirland actors with Brussels. Whenever London really makes controls, build facilities for inspectors, give access to databases, labeling products that can not enter the single market and stop threatening to burst the process.

Does this suppose to renegotiate the agreement?

Yes and no. It is not changing the protocol, but it does flexibilize it, something that is still contemplated and is part of its dynamic nature. It implies making concessions that many believe that London does not deserve, but the Protocol includes clauses that the Northern Ireland Assembly give its consent to its existence every few years, and nothing would serve orthodoxy if it ended the orthodox (or beneficiaries). The measurements are adjustments within the current framework. When the protocol was designed, it was theory, now after 10 months underway there is practical knowledge about what it works, what does not and where there is room for improvement. The EU says that it wants to provide practical solutions to practical problems and has listened to the complaints of companies, citizens, parties and civil associations. But it maintains that controls and guarantees must follow and almost everyone in Northern Ireland assumes it and understand perfectly. The problem is in Westminster and Downing Street.

Are there alternatives to the Protocol?

No. O Protocol or hard borders or a shock situation with infringement, arbitration, lawsuits and tariff fight procedures. Nobody knows how borders could be imposed by force in a powder like the Irish, but the EU can not exist as it is now with an immense hole by which it is not controlled by what enters and leaves, endangering phytosanitary standards , the integrity of the single market and the customs union. There were other possibilities to avoid this situation, but London rejected everything, so it was the best thing that could be achieved, knowing that it was a patch and almost inevitable conflict.

What will happen now?

For Boris Johnson the problem is political. The country faces a crisis, which goes from supermarkets with empty shelves to insufficient truckers, there is political pressure from Belfast and crisis of credibility. Its strategy has always been the clash and the main negotiator, Lord Frost, did not hide anything in a speech pronounced on Tuesday in Lisbon: although there is a commercial and cooperation agreement with the EU, they are "economic competitors" and there is no intention of "Have coalitions" with their ex-partners. So it is difficult for a practical solution as the proposal by Brussels is sufficient. He will present it as an ultimatum, although it is not. For the EU the problem is, once again, of trust. London has not fulfilled his part, he has not given access as he owed to the databases so that Brussels know in real time what goods enter Ireland and if they remain or continue. He is not doing very simple things as labeled or facing the inspectors. So the shadow of suspicion is permanent.

What are the best and worst scenario?

The best is an agreement as quickly as possible on the fundamentals of protocol, with greater or minor changes, but respected by all parties, with political backup and without boycothing. The worst scenario is that Johnson do what they fear most in Belfast or Brussels: activate Article 16 of the Protocol, which would imply an immediate suspension of the most controversial controls. That would force arbitration, infringement procedures and the normal thing is that the EU replicates automatically imposing tariffs on the goods exchanged. A smoke curtain and a way to solve debates maybe to Johnson's taste, but with enormous consequences for citizens and relationships between both parties.

And what about the Tjue?

The great rhetorical obsession of the United Kingdom is to get rid of the EU Court of Justice, but as the Commission recalls: there can be no single market without it. If Northern Ireland wants to continue with access without tariffs and a free circulation (the problem is not the flow that comes from Ireland, but from the United Kingdom) must ultimately exist the Tjue.

Updated Date: 15 October 2021, 05:59

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