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

The decision of the UK Government to introduce domestic legislation that unilaterally revises the Northern Ireland protocol creates further uncertainty for businesses and is a serious threat to the peace process in Northern Ireland, according to Partner Alex Altmann.

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, thereby threatening the function of the EU single market to which Northern Ireland belongs, and as agreed in the Brexit deal in 2020.

“Such domestic legislation would now remove jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice for certain matters in the region and amend requirements for businesses in Northern Ireland to follow EU regulations, which is a serious threat to the integrity of EU institutions. It is no surprise that the EU don’t accept this proposal 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 is a threat to the entire trade agreement and jeopardies not only peace on the island of Ireland, but also risks to damage 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, will look upon this with concern. Europe is facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis and the uncertainty created by this decision is not welcomed by the business community.

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