US and EU issue joint statement that Northern Ireland Protocol renegotiation is 'not an option'

Mon 23 May 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

US politicians have agreed a joint statement with members of the European parliament “that renegotiating the protocol is not an option”.

A delegation from the US Congress is holding meetings with the EU, UK government and with politicians on the island of Ireland following UK threats to suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

A statement from the Congress delegation and the EU called on UK prime minister Boris Johnson to abandon planned legislation to override the international agreement, arguing that the protocol “protects the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts”, reports the Independent.

The joint statement underlines the UK’s isolation over its plans for the protocol which foreign secretary Liz Truss announced to parliament last week.

Truss rebuts claims

The Guardian reports that Truss met with the delegation at the weekend telling them that the protocol was having a severe impact and that she could not let the “situation drag on” if the EU did not produce a reasonable solution.

It is understood that Truss said she was “defending the Good Friday agreement” rather than endangering it.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has responded to calls from the US to “fully implement” the protocol, saying “implementing the protocol means ending grace periods with an economic tsunami hitting Northern Ireland”, reports the BBC.

The American delegation, led by chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal, is set to meet Northern Ireland politicians, including the DUP.

‘Waste of time’

Donaldson said the visit would be a “waste of time” if the US group “cannot see” unionists’ concerns around the protocol, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

“I will be telling them if they want to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the political institutions created by it, they need to recognise that the protocol is fundamentally undermining and harming both,” he said.

In an analysis piece RTE Europe editor Tony Connelly writes that many think Boris Johnson could keep the threat of legislation on the table until the October Tory Party conference, at which point his leadership could be seen as being out of danger.

Johnson could then decide to do a deal to avoid a trade war with the EU and look towards the next election, Connolly predicts.

The EU will almost certainly not change its view that the protocol stays, Connolly writes, leaving “the DUP once again in the ditch, with an election imminent”.