UK-EU Talks Commence

2022 may be a new year, but Brexit is still the same feud. 

The UK and European Union resumed Brexit talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is currently acting as the lead negotiator for the Brits for the first time since the resignation of Lord Frost last month. She hosted the face-to-face talk with European Commission vice-president Marcos Sefcovic at her country house. 

Truss said that the European Union had a “clear responsibility” to solve issues that were caused by the Northern Ireland protocol. 

The Northern Ireland protocol is the Brexit deal that the Brits want to change, but the EU does not. It was agreed upon by the two sides back in October 2019. It effectively creates a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain, in effort to prevent there being a hard border trading with Ireland drawn between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. It keeps Northern Ireland inside of the EU’s single market for trade and goods. It also creates a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the UK, which is something that the EU has accepted causes some troubles for businesses. 

The UK wants fundamental changes to how the protocol is operated and overseen. The EU has offered very limited change, trying to not impact businesses based in Northern Ireland. 

The UK government believes the protocol is “unbalanced.” The main practical impact is that commercial goods that enter Northern Ireland from Great Britain need to have a customs declaration. Food products are subject to even more controls and checks. 

From the UK side, it is proposing a new arrangement where an assumption would be made that the majority of goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would be staying there in Northern Ireland, and that therefore there would not be a risk of the goods crossing a border into the rest of Ireland, or furthermore, into the EU as a whole. 

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