Statement by Vice President Šefčovič on the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland

(Source: European Commission)

I just held a phone call with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. It continues to be of serious concern that the UK government intends to embark on the path of unilateral action.

This is despite a series of wide-ranging and impactful solutions proposed by the EU, based on our intensive engagement with all representatives in Northern Ireland. These proposals would substantially improve the way the Protocol is implemented. Most recently, in February, we proposed to the UK government an ambitious calendar for intensive discussions on the outstanding practical issues raised by people and businesses in Northern Ireland. We have made clear that there is still potential to be explored in our proposals. We are still awaiting the response from the UK side.

I am convinced that only joint solutions will work. Unilateral action, effectively disapplying an international agreement such as the Protocol, is simply not acceptable. This would undermine trust between the EU and UK as well as compromise our ultimate objective – to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions, while ensuring legal certainty and predictability for the people and businesses in Northern Ireland. Such unilateral action will also undermine the conditions which are essential for Northern Ireland to continue to have access to the EU single market for goods.

The EU and the UK are partners facing the same global challenges where upholding the rule of law and living up to international obligations is a necessity. Working side-by-side in a constructive manner is of utmost importance.

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