VIDEO: It’s the BRITISH PEOPLE’S patience that is “wearing very, very thin”, Mr Commissioner

What is the EU’s ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’ and why is it sizzling now?

© Facts4EU.Org 2021

What does it say, why were Brexiteers against it in the first place, and what is ‘Article 16’?

Informing the World about the EU's vindictive 'Northern Ireland Protocol'
Part One of a series of reports demonstrating the EU's true nature

The full series:-
Part One - The Protocol itself (this report)    |   Part Two - How the EU has threatened peace    |   Part Three - Irish Customs overruled by EU    |   Part Four - UK Customs stopped from solution by EU    |   Part Five - Trade involved is minuscule

We present a Facts4EU.Org simple explainer, ahead of escalating tensions between Brexit Britain and the EU.

Yesterday an appointed but powerful EU Commissioner from the small country of Slovakia, representing the EU, gave a press conference in London following his meeting with Lord Frost as part of the inaugural ‘EU-UK Partnership Council.’ Top of the agenda was the ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’.

Following his meeting with the Rt Hon Lord Frost, Commissioner Sefcovic gave the usual long EU press conference to put across the EU’s side. Shown below is the video of this event.

Meanwhile, the UK government contented itself with a written statement, which you can read here.

The Northern Ireland Protocol exists as part of an international treaty between the UK and the EU

This Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) is part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement – a construct agreed to by Theresa May during her premiership. A withdrawal agreement was an imposition by the EU and was not specified in the EU’s treaties, and is not mentioned in Article 50 on the withdrawal of a member country.

In forthcoming articles Facts4EU.Org will explain the significance of the NIP in terms of trade, laws, and the constitutional and economic impact on Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Today we present the basic facts. What is the Protocol? What does it say? What does it mean?

The NIP starts very innocuously. Here is the first article, which has just three clauses.

Northern Ireland Protocol, Article 1

(The full text of the Protocol is available here.)


“1. This Protocol is without prejudice to the provisions of the 1998 Agreement [Belfast / ‘Good Friday Agreement’ -Ed.] in respect of the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent, which provides that any change in that status can only be made with the consent of a majority of its people.

“2. This Protocol respects the essential State functions and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.

“3. This Protocol sets out arrangements necessary to address the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, to maintain the necessary conditions for continued North-South cooperation, to avoid a hard border and to protect the 1998 Agreement in all its dimensions.”

You will hear a lot about the NIP in the coming weeks, and especially ‘Article 16’ and ‘unilateral actions’

Article 1 sets the scene for the rest of the 63 pages of the NIP and, as such, everything that follows in the Protocol should be read in that light. Unfortunately this is not how the EU sees things.

Article 16 of the Protocol is effectively a temporary break clause. It was invoked first by the EU itself in January, in a petulant attempt to prevent vaccines from crossing the border from south to north. This happened despite there being no indication that vaccines were being transported across this border. It was also done – quite astonishingly – without consultation with either London or Dublin.

The EU Commission’s unilateral and peremptory action breached the Protocol, created what amounted to a hard border, and resulted in an instant backlash from the UK and Irish governments. In the chaos which ensued the EU Commission had no choice but to back down some hours later.

So, it was the EU itself which was the first to invoke Article 16. The UK has yet to do so, despite the real and present harms being caused to the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and which have lead to “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, and to diversion of trade”. (See paragraph 1 of Article 16 below.)

What Article 16 actually says

1. If the application of this Protocol leads to serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade, the Union or the United Kingdom may unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures. Such safeguard measures shall be restricted with regard to their scope and duration to what is strictly necessary in order to remedy the situation. Priority shall be given to such measures as will least disturb the functioning of this Protocol.

2. If a safeguard measure taken by the Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, in accordance with paragraph 1 creates an imbalance between the rights and obligations under this Protocol, the Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, may take such proportionate rebalancing measures as are strictly necessary to remedy the imbalance. Priority shall be given to such measures as will least disturb the functioning of this Protocol.

3. Safeguard and rebalancing measures taken in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be governed by the procedures set out in Annex 7 to this Protocol.

And here is ‘Annex 7’


1. Where the Union or the United Kingdom is considering taking safeguard measures under Article 16(1) of this Protocol, it shall, without delay, notify the Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, through the Joint Committee and shall provide all relevant information.
2. The Union and the United Kingdom shall immediately enter into consultations in the Joint Committee with a view to finding a commonly acceptable solution.
3. The Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, may not take safeguard measures until 1 month has elapsed after the date of notification under point 1, unless the consultation procedure under point 2 has been concluded before the expiration of the state limit. When exceptional circumstances requiring immediate action exclude prior examination, the Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, may apply forthwith the protective measures strictly necessary to remedy the situation.
4. The Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, shall, without delay, notify the measures taken to the Joint Committee and shall provide all relevant information.
5. The safeguard measures taken shall be the subject of consultations in the Joint Committee every 3 months from the date of their adoption with a view to their abolition before the date of expiry envisaged, or to the limitation of their scope of application. The Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, may at any time request the Joint Committee to review such measures.
6. Points 1 to 5 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to rebalancing measures referred to in Article 16(2) of this Protocol.

What is likely to happen, will the EU ever see reason, and will the UK ever ditch the Protocol?

Today we have provided the key texts in what is likely to become a hot topic over the coming weeks and months. For example, at the end of this month certain transitional actions taken by the Government will need to be renewed, causing the EU to take further action against the UK and threatening the trade agreement.

In subsequent reports we will publish essential facts about the effects of the EU’s Protocol on Northern Ireland and on the United Kingdom as a whole. We will also show how it is completely unnecessary, how border trade is negligible for the EU, and what the consequences of the ‘sausage wars’ might be. We will also demonstrate why the EU's 'solutions' referred to by Mr Sefcovic in his press conference are not solutions at all.


The final Protocol was undoubtedly an improvement on the version provisionally agreed, (but never ratified in Parliament), by Theresa May and her cabal of ardently pro-EU civil servants led by Ollie Robbins.

The latest iteration of this EU abomination comes in the form of the “Northern Ireland Protocol” – an adjunct to the Withdrawal Agreement signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the end of January 2020, and it forms part of the international treaty to which he put his signature.

It was and remains a disgraceful piece of work by the EU and should never have been agreed to by any UK government.

From the first moment the EU sought to weaponise and jeopardise the hard-won peace agreement in Northern Ireland during Theresa May’s weak and pro-EU government, Facts4EU.Org has provided cold, hard facts about it. We have done so in an effort to counter this non-issue which was clearly being deployed by the EU to punish the British people for voting to leave its empire. We are further sure that this manufactured issue was part of a concerted campaign to assist UK Remainers in Parliament and in campaign groups, in overturning the result of the EU Referendum.

As stated above, in future reports we would like to summarise all the key information readers will want to to know, as this conflict escalates and as we need to reinforce a strong government stance. If you can help us with a donation, we would be most grateful. Facts4EU.Org isn’t just ‘not-for-profit’, it persistently has insufficient funds for lobbying, researching and publishing on the topics which readers might wish to read about. Thank you.

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[ Sources: EU Commission | Cabinet Office ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Thur 10 Jun 2021

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