EU gives UK more time to respond to enforcement action on Northern Ireland Protocol

Tue 9 Aug 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett, Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The EU has given the UK an extra month to respond to legal action it launched after the publication of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill was introduced to parliament on 13 June.

The Guardian reported that at the UK’s request the EU has granted an extension for the deadline to respond to infringement proceedings issued on 15 June.

With a previous deadline of 15 August, the EU has now extended this into September.

The EU’s legal actions came after the UK government’s move to unilaterally modify the NI Protocol via the bill.

Three infringement cases

The Guardian notes that the UK is facing seven total infringement proceedings relating to the protocol.

As covered previously by the IOE&IT’s Daily Update, the June proceedings are related to:

  • A first set of legal proceedings [NM1]related directly to the UK’s purported failure to comply with “significant parts” of the protocol
  • A second proceeding related to the grace periods the UK unilaterally extended last year to SPS goods moving into NI from GB
  • The third complaint was that a claim that the UK had failed to provide real-time access to UK data on trade movements required under the protocol

These are separate from other legal proceedings, launched on 22 July, regarding the UK’s alleged failure to carry out border checks on goods heading from Northern Ireland to Great Britain NI to GB, as well as its purported failure to implement EU rules on excise, duty and VAT on e-commerce.

NI Protocol Bill: next steps

The bill has cleared the House of Commons and currently sits in the House of Lords, with the government hoping to pass the bill by the end of this year.

The BBC reports that the bill faces a potential rough ride in the Lords once parliament returns from recess on 5 September.

‘Top priority’

As the Conservative Party leadership race continues into August, Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie MLA, which has historical ties to the UK Conservative Party, has said that dealing with the protocol should be one of the next prime minister’s top priorities, according to The Newsletter.

“As soon as the ... leadership campaign is over, we need to see an end to the diplomatic ‘whataboutery’ over the NI Protocol between the EU and the UK government,” Beattie said.