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S&Ds: By breaching NI Protocol, UK government is further destroying trust with EU


14 Jun 2022


UK in Europe

The S&D Group in the European Parliament has today heavily criticised the unilateral action proposed by the UK government to override the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK Government wants to give its Ministers unilateral powers to set post-Brexit rules governing trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, seeking to establish a new system for checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain and a so-called dual regime for regulatory standards.

 S&D MEPs believe the proposed legislation would breach the terms of the Protocol on Northern Ireland, would break international law commitments freely taken by Boris Johnson and would seriously endanger post-Brexit economic and trade relations.

Pedro Silva Pereira, vice-president of the European Parliament and S&D member of the UK Coordination Group, said:

“Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson risks destroying what little trust there is left between the UK government and the EU by adopting unilateral proposals to breach the Northern Ireland Protocol. It is unacceptable that one side attempts to override the trade arrangements that form part of an agreement under international law. Despite his dubious relationship with the truth, the fact is that PM Johnson himself signed this agreement just over 2 years ago. Since then, his government has consistently failed to act in good faith or to remember the spirit of peace and cooperation set out in the Good Friday Agreement. After all, this is why the Northern Ireland Protocol exists in the first place.

The UK government should wake up to the serious damage this action will have on its reputation internationally, otherwise there will be serious consequences. Under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, there are real teeth in the toolbox of retaliatory measures and when MEPs meet with Vice President Maros Šefčovič tomorrow, we will tell him the Commission has our full support over the next steps to be taken in this regards. ”

Thijs Reuten, S&D coordinator for the EU-UK Parliamentary Assembly, said:

“Contrary to what PM Boris Johnson believes, there is nothing trivial about the unilateral action the UK government has published today. Instead, after London’s countless earlier failures to act in good faith, today’s announcement represents the UK government’s clear intent to commit yet another serious breach of international law.

“We reject Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempt to once again spur animosity with the EU to distract from his poor political performance at home. His domestic reputation is clearly already on the rocks, but the UK’s reputation as a credible, global player is still intact. We call on the United Kingdom to refrain from wilfully undermining our post-Brexit cooperation at a time when unity among European allies is of the utmost importance. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail as these proposals make their way through the UK Parliament.

“First and foremost, the UK government should revisit Northern Ireland to listen to the views of its people. Recent elections showed there is no political majority for ripping up the NI Protocol, while businesses have also been vocal on their opposition to the harmful impact these regimes on checks and regulations would have on their activity. I  hope that, before this cynical political act on the part of Mr Johnson does any damage to their livelihoods, the UK government will return to the table with the EU to look for a negotiated solution on the trade arrangements in Northern Ireland. We remain open to any practical solutions that fully respect the international Treaty already signed by both parties.”