How many of the EU Protocol’s flaws will Liz Truss put right today?
Facts4EU.Org is providing a checklist for Liz Truss to measure up against
Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2022
There’s a great deal wrong with the NI Protocol - here are some key issues
During yesterday and last night over dinner, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss - now our Chief Brexit Negotiator - has been meeting her EU counterpart, Maroš Šefčovič, to discuss the Northern Ireland Protocol. The negotiations continue this morning and later today we can expect a press communiqué telling us how far they have progressed.
To help our readers decipher the announcement, the team at Facts4EU thought it would be helpful to produce a handy checklist of the Protocol’s faults so we can gauge whether or not Liz Truss is giving or gaining ground. We distilled it down to six headings.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary
Six major headings in Facts4EU.Org’s checklist for Liz Truss
- Constitutional respect
- No biased EU final arbiter
- End the democratic deficit
- Unobstructed East-West GB-NI trade
- Movement of animals
- GB medicines to be available in NI
Yesterday morning Liz Truss tweeted:
Here’s the checklist in greater detail
1. Constitutional respect:
In living memory, people have died to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and yet the Protocol puts the province on the window ledge of the Union without any shred of consent from its people. This was utterly disrespectful of Northern Ireland’s people and is contrary to the Belfast Agreement. Thanks to the crowdfunded case brought by David Trimble, Ben Habib, Kate Hoey and leaders of the Unionist parties, a Belfast High Court judge found that the Protocol impliedly repealed key parts of the Act of Union, in particular NI's right to be on the 'same footing' as the rest of the UK for trade. This cannot be allowed to continue.
Solving the problems below would go a long way to heal the constitutional rift. Failure will see tensions rise – a horrific thought. An acknowledgement by both parties that the manner in which the Protocol was introduced – without consent – was wrong, would help.
2. No biased Final Arbiter:
An obvious issue is that the final arbiter of dispute resolution is the Courts of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU is full of activist judges who habitually change law through their interpretations as they see fit.
This cannot continue, especially because of the democratic deficit (below) imposed upon Northern Ireland by the Protocol. The answer is obvious. In treaties and their protocols such as this, the norm is that an independent arbiter is appointed that is not influenced by or directly connected with either party.
3. Democratic Deficit:
Because certain EU laws pertain in Northern Ireland through the EU’s single market and customs union while the rest of the UK is out of the EU, there is no representation for British citizens in Northern Ireland regarding those laws and their application or failings. Worse, these laws can of course change and British citizens in Northern Ireland will have no say in any onerous alterations that are likely to create greater distance with the UK mainland or have a damaging effect.
Moving the border away from the middle of the Irish Sea to its natural place between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but operating it as a virtual border by means of mutual enforcement would mean there is no requirement for democratic representation. This is how it has always been for taxes, VAT, fuel, tobacco and alcohol duties, highway code, currencies, etc.
4. East West GB-NI trade:
The problems of the inspection of goods and animals or animal-derived products at Northern Irish ports and airports are caused by the border being in the wrong place. No amount of relaxation will be sufficient to overcome the barriers to trade that have been created. The absence of such barriers was guaranteed in the Acts of Union of 1800.
These new barriers do not just create real obstacles and friction for trade for supermarkets and retail chains but for many as yet gone unremarked. Examples include farmers seeking seed potatoes sourced from Scotland, thousands of English Oak saplings to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and a multitude of small businesses who find suppliers across the whole of Great Britain are no longer interested in sending parts to them because of the bureaucracy. (Small businesses want small quantities so it becomes uneconomic for the supplier.)
Mutual enforcement would solve this problem by ending all the bureaucracy imposed by EU laws.
5. Movement of animals:
In addition to trade in animals and animals derivatives covered above, the movement of animals that are pets or assistance dogs for the blind and hard of hearing has made a mockery of the Protocol – and those that advocate its continuation. We all know, but nobody is saying, that the real problem is the mass export to the GB mainland of dogs from Irish puppy farms – not the threat of guide dogs who are committed to staying with their owners or pets with rabies – when Britain does not have rabies extant in the island.
This obstruction simply needs to be removed, or consequently significant restrictions on the movement of animals to GB should be introduced.
It is a nonsense that medicines for Northern Ireland can be restricted because they need EU approval.
Do the politicians not realise that is possible for people to cross the border in either direction (thousands do so daily) and obtain medicines with different approvals? Again mutual enforcement would solve this problem by allowing different medicines to be available on either side of the real border. Let any contraband be the subject of prosecutions.
Early signs from yesterday's session are not encouraging
The Government's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is Brandon Lewis - someone who was always an avid supporter of the United Kingdom remaining in the EU. It seems he attended the meeting at the Foreign Secretary's country residence at Chevening. Yesterday evening he tweeted. Below is his tweet, commented on by the 'Lassies for Leave' group, who are regular readers of Facts4EU.Org.
Very sad to say this, but if Brandon Lewis talks about constructive conversations, I get very worried https://t.co/7yg5GwAJRU— Lassies For Leave (@LassiesForLeave) January 13, 2022
There has been a great deal of talk about the challenge that Liz Truss faces and how this is an opportunity for the Foreign Secretary to show her mettle. Then recently there were reports of her softening the British line through a change of tone, which some people saw as the possibility of the UK preparing to compromise. This would be strange, given it was Lord Frost being firm and unbending that got the EU to come to the table in the first place.
It is therefore vital that we remember what the problems of the Protocol are. That’s why we have produced the checklist.
By themselves they are egregious enough. However the sum is greater than the individual parts, because if left alone they are an incentive and inducement for the Republic of Ireland (and the EU) to capture Northern Ireland economically. With the democratic deficit in addition, this makes it attractive and seamless politically to unify the whole of the island of Ireland.
Sadly, if that does not bring the end of peace, achieved at great effort under the Belfast Agreement, we would be very surprised.
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[ Sources: N.I. Protocol | Facts4EU.Org reports ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Fri 14 Jan 2022
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