NI business groups urge EU and UK to 'redouble efforts' to resolve Protocol differences

Tue 23 Aug 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

UK EU Northern Ireland Protocol Consortium urges compromise

A consortium of Northern Irish business groups has urged the UK and EU to come to an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group, which represents 14 major trade bodies in the region, has also voiced caution over a proposed dual regulatory scheme contained in the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, according to The Irish Times.

According to a statement from the group: “With inflation rising to a 40-year high, the Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group call on the EU and the UK to redouble their efforts to resolve their differences on the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol and find an agreement based on compromise.”

EU or UK rules

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill was introduced to Parliament by foreign secretary Liz Truss on 13 June 2022 and would allow London to suspend or override elements of the post-Brexit arrangement for trade between Great Britain and the region.

Under a dual regulatory system proposed by the UK and included in the Bill, businesses putting their products up for sale within Northern Ireland will be given the choice of doing so under either UK or EU rules.

The Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group said that the system “will create a myriad of reputational, legal and commercial risks for many of our businesses.”

It also said that the bill risked harming the region’s export economy, the Independent reports.

Conciliatory Truss

Ireland’s minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, said that he hasn’t ruled out hope of Truss taking a more conciliatory approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol if she becomes the next prime minister.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Byrne said he believed Truss would “be her own person” and that the “greater weight” of responsibility would outweigh “the day-to-day politics of the job.”

No trade war

The Fianna Fáil politician added: “They don’t want a trade war with the EU. We certainly don’t want a trade war with Britain. But at the end of the day they will have to decide not to ratchet things up.”

He said Truss had shown herself to be on the “pragmatic and open-minded side” over the years, according to the Newsletter.

US concerns

The Protocol is also being raised as an issue by US politicians, with Politico reporting that Truss has a “branding problem in Washington” which could hinder her ability to negotiate a long-awaited bilateral UK-US trade deal.

The White House administration and members of Congress are said to be wary of Truss’ sponsorship of the Protocol Bill, with President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi having repeatedly criticised the legislation.

A member of Truss’ campaign team said: “Liz has a good relationship with her American counterparts. They’ve worked well together during her time as foreign secretary, in particular responding to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.”