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UK Government’s unilateral move to change Northern Ireland protocol creates more uncertainty for businesses and risks further trade disruption with EU

The decision of the UK Government to introduce new domestic legislation that unilaterally revises the Northern Ireland protocol would be a violation against international law and a serious threat to the peace process in Northern Ireland embedded by the Good Friday Agreement.

Partner Alex Altmann, who is also Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany, said: “A unilateral change of the Northern Ireland protocol without agreement by the EU is aimed to scale back customs arrangements required to check goods sent from Britain to Northern Ireland, and thereby threatening the function of the EU single market.

“Such domestic legislation would also remove jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice for certain matters in the region and potentially amend requirements for businesses in Northern Ireland to follow EU regulations, which is a serious threat to the integrity of EU institutions. The EU won’t accept such a unilateral change and will be forced to introduce counter measures, potentially triggering a tit-for-tat ‘trade war’.

“The dual customs and VAT regime agreed with the Northern Ireland protocol as part of the Brexit trade deal was a working compromise accepted by all EU member states and the United Kingdom. The unilateral termination of parts of the protocol and its potential replacement with a dual regulatory system for goods is a threat to the entire trade agreement that jeopardises not only peace on the island of Ireland, but also risks damaging trade between the UK and the EU even further. Other countries and trading blocs with whom the UK has signed, or is hoping to, sign trade agreements with will look upon this with concern. Europe is facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis and the uncertainty created by this decision will not welcomed by the business community.”

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