The EU’s ambassador to the UK, João Vale de Almeida, has said that critics of the Northern Ireland Protocol have failed to come up with alternatives to implementing Brexit while maintaining peace in the region.
In an interview with the Guardian, Vale de Almeida said that the EU would show flexibility in its implementation if the UK showed good faith and called on Unionist opponents of the Protocol to focus on making it work.
NI Protocol is the solution
“The Protocol is the solution for the problems created by Brexit in Northern Ireland and that’s where I believe we should focus,” he said.
Northern Ireland has seen four nights of disturbances in Derry/Londonderry and Carrickfergus near Belfast. Some politicians have levelled the blame on tension over post-transition trading rules, while others have blamed the decision to not bring charges after alleged breach of pandemic rules at a Republican funeral last summer.
Under the NI Protocol, Northern Ireland remains in both the EU customs union and the UK customs territory – a measure that avoided the implementation of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Trader Support Service improving
The head of the Trader Support Service, set up by HM Government to assist traders moving goods between GB and NI, said he was “incredibly proud” of the support the service has provided so far and that the service was “gradually improving”.
Giving evidence to NI Assembly members at Stormont last month, Fujitsu VP and client managing director Christian Benson said he was “incredibly proud” of what had been achieved.
Benson said that TSS staff had processed 337,000 consignments since January and that about 36,000 traders were now registered with the TSS. However, he admitted that there was still work to do.