Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – International relations for any country are a complicated matter. You cannot always become a friend of one country in every situation. Things keep changing each day, and every country has to put their needs first.
Some time ago, England announced that they were going to exit from the European Union, which is among the biggest group of countries. You might have heard about the Schengen visa, which allows you to travel throughout the whole of Europe on just a single visa. The residents of countries under Schengen visas can easily change their country and live differently from they were born.
Britain was also a part of the Schengen visa. But, the people of England did not like it as they believed the European Union was pulling them behind, and they could develop at a much faster speed if they were not part of the European Union.
Boris Johnson came into power, and he announced that they were going to respect the Brexit poll and Britain was exiting from the European Union. Soon after Britain announced Brexit, Northern Ireland retaliated against the decision as it was not in favour of Northern Ireland.
What is the Good Friday Agreement?
Before we discuss the unique situation of the Northern Ireland protocol well, let’s first discuss its history. It is not a new thing which the people of Northern Ireland came up with suddenly. It has a long history.
Back in 1998, there was an agreement between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom regarding the development of relations on both the North-South and East-West basis.
The North and South relations are going to focus on Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. On the other hand, the East and West relationships are going to focus on Ireland and Great Britain.
A huge number of people campaigned against Brexit back when the opinion poll was not held in the United Kingdom. Those people claimed that the new Brexit deal is going to undermine the peace deal by disrupting the north South dynamics.
The Brexit deal is not going to do anything for the people of Northern Ireland other than disrupting the 1998 peace accord between the island and Great Britain.
What is the Northern Ireland protocol bill?
As you are already aware, the people of Northern Ireland were not happy with Brexit as they wanted to keep good relations with the European Union. The politicians and people of Northern Ireland were happy being part of the European Union as it was in their favour.
The Northern Ireland protocol bill presented in the House of Representatives is going to address the unique situation of Northern Ireland after Brexit.
The bill is going to give powers to the ministers to fix problems identified in the Brexit treaty with the European Union. They will also have powers to override the conditions in Brexit.
What is the Northern Ireland protocol going to do?
Once you have understood what is the Northern Ireland protocol bill? The next thing you are going to ask is what is it going to do?
It is a fair question, as Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, and England has left the European Union. Why does Northern Ireland still want some relationships with the European Union?
That answer is pretty simple. The Northern Ireland protocol is going to focus on four areas which will help the region grow at a much faster speed. The bill is going to focus on how to remove friction at Irish seaports.
As per most law experts, the new Northern Ireland protocol bill is going to focus on five key areas which are very crucial for the region.
- The regulation of goods
- The movement of goods
- Subsidy control
- VAT and excise
- The governance of the protocol
The regulation of goods
First of all, the regulation of goods is going to give an option to all the business owners in the Northern Ireland region to select which regulatory regime they want to follow for goods being supplied in or entering the region. They can opt for the European Union or the United Kingdom as per their wish, but the unique thing about the bill is that it will also give them an option to comply with both regulatory regimes.
The movement of goods
The Northern Ireland protocol is going to propose removing the checks and paperwork for certain goods moving from Great Britain to the Northern Ireland region. It will be a great help for small businesses who want to import goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Another interesting thing about the new Northern Ireland protocol bill is that it will allow Northern Ireland to follow European Union state aid rules about measures which affect trade.
The new bill will bring the Northern Ireland region into the subsidy control regime that applies to the rest of the United Kingdom under the subsidy Control Act 2022. It is in complete favour of the people of Northern Ireland.
VAT and excise
At present, the situation of VAT and excise is very unique in the region. Currently, the Northern Ireland region is following the VAT and excise rules for goods Set by the European Union. The new Northern Ireland protocol bill would allow the changes in wet and exercise rates as well as other taxes in Great Britain to be reflected in Northern Ireland. As a result, the United Kingdom will have one regime for VAT excise and other taxes in the whole area.
What is the view of the UK government on the Northern Ireland protocol bill?
A lot of things are happening in the United Kingdom as Downing straight is confident that the bill will survive a legal challenge.
From the very first day, the British government was not happy with the action taken by the European Union regarding the Northern Ireland protocol.
The British government is also not happy as the European Union have relaunched legal proceedings against the Brexit deal.
A lot of things are happening in the United Kingdom as Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to give his resignation a few days ago, and now the Northern Ireland parliament is pushing its Northern Ireland protocol bill at a much faster speed.
The British government is also not happy as the Commission of the European Union has also launched two other complaints regarding the live data of customs and not building permanent border control posts.
Another interesting thing regarding the situation of the United Kingdom and European Union on the position of the Northern Ireland protocol bill is that the UK wants to enter the jurisdiction of the European Court of justice in Northern Ireland.
On the other hand, the European Union does not like it. As Northern Ireland wants to be part of the single market of the European Union, the European Union believes it will be in favour of both parties if the European Court of Justice resolves the disputes.
View of European Union on Northern Ireland protocol bill
Before we wrap our session, let’s discuss the clear view of the European Union on the Northern Ireland protocol bill. The bill is not just going to impact the United Kingdom and the people of Northern Ireland, but it is also directly linked with the European Union.
As we are already aware, during the Brexit movement, Brussels or the European Union was not happy as The United Kingdom used its unilateral action.
A few weeks ago, the Commission of the European Union reactivated a legal case against the government of the United Kingdom over the failure of implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol.
It was originally part of the Brexit settlement signed by Boris Johnson back in 2019. As per the settlement, the European Union could have a single market status with Northern Ireland.
Is the Northern Ireland protocol bill legal?
It will be too early to discuss the legal status of the Northern Ireland protocol bill. Several critics of the government claimed that the Northern Ireland protocol bill is a clear violation of international law. On the other hand, politicians in favour of the bill are claiming it is well under international law. People in favour of the bill claimed that Brexit was not in favour of the people of Northern Ireland, and it is changing the structure of the constitution of Northern Ireland.