13/06/2022

Alliance Warns Protocol Legislation 'Contrary To Interests Of NI'

The Alliance Party has warned the UK Government's expected legislation to scrap parts of the NI Protocol would be contrary to the interests of Northern Ireland and of the entire UK.

Speaking ahead of the publication of the Bill, Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry, argued that trust and partnership between the UK and the EU is the key to addressing the remaining challenges with the Protocol, and this approach therefore makes that process much more difficult.

Stephen Farry MP stated: "Sadly, Northern Ireland has become a pawn in the internal politics of the Conservative Party and a one-sided approach to the politics of Northern Ireland. The rationale cited by the Government for the legislation is utterly disingenuous.

"The Government’s approach represents a breach of an international agreement and international law more generally. It also risks retaliation from the European Union that would bring even more pressure on a fragile UK economy.

"The Bill proposals run contrary to the interests of Northern Ireland. It will make the task of addressing the remaining challenges regarding the Protocol much more difficult. Building trust and partnership is key to reaching breakthroughs.
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"Unilateral action, especially around the ultimate jurisdiction of the ECJ, would also compromise Northern Ireland’s current unfettered access to the EU Single Market for goods. Even the ongoing uncertainty exacerbated by this Bill constitutes a deterrent to investment.

"Furthermore, the proposed dual regulatory regime for businesses brings even more bureaucracy and risks compromising access to the Single Market for some goods.

"The Protocol is the product of Brexit. It reflects the choice made by the Government and the DUP for a hard Brexit. While it is not without its challenges, it offers Northern Ireland a soft landing from Brexit.

"There are various steps within the Protocol or through additional agreements with the EU that can soften the impact of the Protocol. A UK-EU Veterinary Agreement would be a key step.

"The slow pace of progress over the past 12 months has been frustrating. Greater flexibility is of course necessary from the EU. However, it is the belligerent and begrudging approach taken by the UK Government which has been the greater obstacle. That is set to get worse.

"By contrast, a clear majority of the electorate, MLAs and the business community favour a pragmatic approach. This confrontational approach is clearly at odds with opinion in Northern Ireland which begs the question as to why it is happening?

"The legislation could only ever be enacted at a huge price for Northern Ireland and the entire UK and ultimately is unlikely to be so. Therefore, it is a dead end and represents a huge waste of time.

"The way forward lies in mutual agreement between the UK and EU around legal and sustainable solutions."

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