EU takes legal action over NI Protocol Bill

By Matthew Leslie
WORKERS, farmers and businesses in Fermanagh deserve certainty states MLA Jemma Dolan following the latest Protocol row between Britain and the European Union.
Ms Dolan was speaking after the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, launched four legal cases against the UK after the House of Commons in Westminster last week passed a Bill to scrap some of the rules regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Protocol was agreed upon by the UK and the EU as part of the Brexit deal to ensure that the North of Ireland would not have a hard land border with the Republic of Ireland and that it would remain inside the European Single Market to allow the free passage of goods and people.
However, a bone of contention from the Protocol for unionists in the Six Counties was the creation of a sea border separating Northern Ireland from the rest of Great Britain which would mean customs checks at ferry ports and airports in the North.
It was with that in mind that the Conservative Government in the UK passed the Bill through – which has not yet come into law as it awaits scrutiny from the House of Lords.
The European Commission has charged Britain with failing to comply with customs requirements for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Britain, not transposing EU rules on excise duties in general and duties on alcohol and not implementing EU rules on sales tax for e-commerce.
Sinn Fein MLA Dolan warned that the actions of the UK Government are in bad faith towards the EU given that they had already agreed a Brexit deal with them and that the Bill, should it come into UK law, could bring the prospect of a hard land border back which in turn would have a massive effect on the local economy of Fermanagh and the rest of the North.
She said: “The EU’s legal action against the British Government, an action they paused in 2021 in a spirit of constructive cooperation as they tried to reach agreement with the British Government, has now been initiated.
“The European Union’s response, due to the British Government’s reckless actions and breach of international law, has been inevitable.
“The unilateral actions of the Tories in Westminster are an act of bad faith and caused deep mistrust with their international partners.
“The British government’s actions have also raised significant worry and stress across the business community here in the north.
“I would encourage both parties to fully engage with the joint committee, this is the best way to iron out the outstanding issues of the protocol.
“This would also give certainty to workers, farmers and business here in Fermanagh and the north.”

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