Foreign Secretary Liz Truss today set out plans for legislation that would allow the UK government to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Legislation to be introduced “in the coming weeks” would “make changes in the protocol…[but was] not about scrapping” it, Truss told MPs.’
While declaring her preference for a negotiated solution with the EU, Truss said the law would “fix” those protocol elements “that aren’t” working, including movement of goods, goods regulation, VAT, subsidy control and governance.
Meanwhile it will “cement” certain protocol provisions “which are working”. These include the Common Travel Area, the Single Electricity Market and North-South [Ireland] cooperation.
As predicted, central to the legislation will be:
a) the introduction of two channels for goods movements:
A green lane for trusted traders transporting goods to NI only. Such goods movements will be exempt from checks and customs controls, thereby freeing them from “unnecessary bureaucracy” removing "regulatory barriers to goods made to UK standards being sold in Northern Ireland", Truss said
A red lane for products destined for the EU, ie the Republic of Ireland. These goods will have to undergo full checks and customs controls under EU law
b) New dual regulatory regime: businesses will be able to choose between meeting UK or EU standards
c) Businesses and residents of NI would be consulted “before any changes are made,” Truss said.
‘Why we’re acting’
In announcing the legislation, Truss said there is “a necessity to act” and that MPs across political parties accepted there are issues with the protocol.
The Truss statement to MPs highlighted issues including:
- “Rules on taxation [that] mean citizens in Northern Ireland are unable to benefit fully from the same advantages as the rest of the UK, like the reduction in VAT on solar panels.
- “SPS rules [that] mean that producers face onerous restrictions, including veterinary certification, in order to sell food stuffs in shops in Northern Ireland.”
‘EU trade war’
Questioned by Lib Dem MP Layla Moran on how much extra people might have to pay for goods if the EU retaliates by triggering a trade war, Truss said the government was confident the move is legal and that people in NI were already facing higher costs.