DUP and ERG back mutual enforcement regime to replace NI Protocol

Mon 26 Jun 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Windsor Framework on a phone

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has signalled that it is open to a suggested replacement for the Northern Ireland Protocol and Windsor Framework, with a senior party figure saying that a proposal for ‘mutual enforcement’ required “serious and sustained consideration”.

The proposal comes in a new report by pro-Brexit think tank the Centre for Brexit Policy and calls for a radical redrawing of trading arrangements under a system of mutual enforcement of rules.

The system would see the UK and EU implement each other’s trading rules and regulations to protect their respective markets, reports the Independent.

No ECJ role

Under the proposed system, UK exporters to the EU who break European rules would be punished by UK courts – with no role for the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland – and EU exporters to the UK would be policed by EU officials.

Writing in a foreword to the report, which has been presented to the UK Government and will be launched tomorrow (27 June), DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the “corrosive impact” of the protocol has been undeniable.

The DUP has refused to be part of the Stormont assembly for over a year in protest at the protocol, but Sir Jeffrey called on “all sides to engage constructively with proposals that could help end the logjam”, reports RTE.

‘Get Stormont running’

“The DUP wants to see Stormont back up and running again as soon as possible and on a sound and stable foundation,” the DUP leader writes.

The Centre for Brexit Policy insists mutual enforcement would address DUP concerns about Northern Ireland’s sovereignty as part of the UK and still provide for a free-flowing border on the island of Ireland.

David Jones, the deputy chairman of the ERG, has also written a foreword for the report.

“It is clear that the protocol is not a sustainable long-term arrangement,” he said. “Sooner or later – and preferably sooner – it will have to be replaced by something better. This paper presents a workable solution to the problem.”

The plan set out by the Centre for Brexit Policy would involve abandoning the protocol and Windsor Framework, negotiated by prime minister Rishi Sunak earlier this year, reports the Telegraph.

The European Commission has previously refused to consider the idea of mutual enforcement, but has made no comment yet on this latest suggestion to replace the recently negotiated Windsor Framework.