UK and EU on cusp of NI Protocol deal with von der Leyen meeting Sunak and King Charles today

Mon 27 Feb 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Map of UK and Europe with pen being drawn across Northern Ireland - Republic of Ireland border

Prime minster Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a new deal with the EU on the future of the Northern Ireland Protocol this afternoon (27 February).

European Commission (EC) president Ursula von der Leyen is holding final talks with Sunak this morning ahead of a joint press conference in Windsor, where she is also expected to be meeting King Charles III.

Concessions

The Times reports that Sunak is to claim that he won significant concessions from the EU in the negotiations.

According to Politico, the PM will brief his cabinet after the meeting with von der Leyen, before holding the press conference at 3.30pm.

He is then expected to go to the House of Commons in an effort to sell the deal to MPs, although it has not yet been confirmed whether or not Parliament will have a full vote on any agreement.

Opposition

The Guardian reports that Sunak is likely to face opposition from the DUP as well as from within his own Conservative Party.

MPs from both parties have warned that they cannot support any agreement unless EU law is no longer applicable to Northern Ireland, according to the Telegraph.

Former PM Boris Johnson has urged Sunak not to drop the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill that would give Parliament the ability to unilaterally modify the agreement and was a key part of Johnson’s strategy on EU-UK negotiations.

Former Brexit secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has also said to the media today that a “significant number” of Tory MPs will not support the deal if the DUP does not back it.

Expected details

A new deal could remove certain checks for products crossing the Irish sea from Britain to be sold or used within Northern Ireland only.

Although yet to be confirmed, it is anticipated that the EU has accepted UK proposals for the adoption of ‘green’ and ‘red lanes’ for goods moving through Northern Irish ports that are subject to Northern Ireland Protocol rules.

This would mean that British goods destined to remain in Northern Ireland would be treated differently to those moving into the Republic of Ireland and the EU’s single market.

ECJ jurisdiction

ITV reports that the EU remains firm on the European Court of Justice maintaining its jurisdiction over disputes involving Britain-to-Northern Ireland trade, although a compromise requiring a referral from an Northern Irish court could be implemented.

The FT reports that, in an effort to assuage the DUP, the devolved Northern Irish Assembly could be given more influence on EU rules.

“This is the closest we’ve been to putting the issues with the protocol to bed, which would allow us to move the relationship with the UK into a much more constructive framework,” according to an EU diplomat.

The IOE&IT Daily Update will be covering the full details of the deal and its fallout in tomorrow’s edition and over the coming weeks.