Gove admits 'serious problems' with NI Protocol amid crisis talks with the EU

Wed 3 Feb 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Michael Gove is to write to European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič to address new checks implemented under the NI Protocol which are impacting the “daily life” of people in Northern Ireland.

Answering an urgent question on Northern Ireland in parliament yesterday, Gove said he will call for current grace periods to be extended to allow businesses more time to adapt to new trade rules bought in under the NI Protocol at the end of the transition period.

Further rules concerning customs and product standards are due to kick in for trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland from April.

Talks with EU

Gove told parliament yesterday (2 February) that there were “serious problems” with the NI Protocol and the Times reports that he will hold crisis talks with the EU as the rules are thought to be endangering the peace process in the region.

Border checks at Northern Ireland ports were halted after reports of ‘sinister behaviour’ and threats to staff.

The news came on the back of EU moves to block the movement of coronavirus vaccines over the Irish border, from the Republic of Ireland into the UK, by triggering Article 16 of the Protocol last week.

A tweet from Boris Johnson accused the EU of seeking to “undermine” the Protocol, though the EU did quickly revoke its use of the article.

DUP to oppose

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said it will “actively oppose” any measures or laws stemming from the protocol which undermine the region’s place in the UK internal market.

DUP leader Arlene Foster today held a virtual meeting with the prime minister and a conference call with Michael Gove and Maroš Šefčovič, the Guardian reports.