Vice President of the European Union Commission maros sefkovic A series of measures were unveiled on Wednesday that would cut regulatory scrutiny and dramatically cut customs procedures on the movement of goods between Britain and the island of Ireland.
UK Government has called for “intense dialogue” to follow EU resolutions, which are designed to deal with the disruption caused by the protocol.
The measures would see an 80% reduction in checks envisaged for retail agri-food products coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
The proposed changes also remove the possibility of some British products, including Cumberland sausages, being banned from export to the region.
The protocol, which was agreed by the EU and the UK to maintain a free-flowing land border on the island of Ireland, has created a series of economic constraints on the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
The EU’s plan to reduce the resulting trade friction also includes a 50% reduction in customs paperwork required to move products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
More products and companies would be exempt from customs duties as a result of the expansion of reliable merchant arrangements and a concept that differentiates between goods destined for Northern Ireland and those “at risk” of onward transport into the Irish Republic.
The EU has also offered to enact legislation to ensure there is no disruption in the supply line of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Following the announcement of the proposals, a UK government spokesman said: “The EU has now published its proposals in response to those in our command paper.
“We are studying the details and will certainly look at them seriously and constructively.
“The next step should be an in-depth conversation on both sets of our proposals, conducted rapidly, to determine whether there is common ground to find a solution.
“Significant changes that deal with the fundamental issues at the heart of the Protocol, including governance, if we are to agree a sustainable agreement that mandates support in Northern Ireland.
“We need to find a solution that can put all sides behind for the future, that protects the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement, and that strengthens UK-EU relations.
Keeping this in mind, we are ready to work hard.
Mr. Safekovic said Block had worked very hard to come up with an “alternative model” for implementing the protocol.
“We have explored every possible angle of the protocol and, at times, have gone beyond current EU law,” he told a news conference in Brussels.
He added: “With this robust package of practical, imaginative solutions we can continue to implement the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland for the benefit of all communities on the ground.
“This not only reinforces sustainability and predictability, an essential component for the local economy to thrive, but also paves the way for increased opportunities.”
As part of its proposals, the Commission has also promised to increase engagement with stakeholders in Northern Ireland, including politicians, business representatives and other members of civil society.
However, the measures contained in four separate papers published by the bloc on Wednesday evening do not make any concessions to the removal of the oversight role for the European Court of Justice (ECJ), a key demand of the UK government.
In return for the scaled-back checking regime, the EU has called for the implementation of certain safeguards to provide additional assurance that products destined for Northern Ireland do not cross the Irish border.
These include the labeling of certain products, making it clear that they are for sale only in the UK, and enhanced monitoring of supply chain movements and access to real-time trade flow information.
It said access to real-time data, and the construction of new testing facilities at ports in Northern Ireland, were commitments the UK had already made, but had yet to fulfill.
The full range of checks required under the protocol has yet to be implemented as a series of grace periods continue which the UK has unilaterally extended on a unilateral basis.
The EU pledge on agri-food checks refers to an 80% reduction in the number that would be required under full implementation of the arrangements, although the proposal would also reduce checks currently implemented during the exemption period.
While the range of measures will go some way to reducing the everyday friction on trade caused by the protocol, they do not address the UK’s demand on the role of the ECJ.
Britain’s Brexit minister Lord Frost has made it clear that removing the court’s oversight function in police to police protocol is a red line for the government if a settlement is to be reached.
Under the terms of the Protocol, which were agreed upon by the UK and the EU as part of the 2020 Withdrawal Agreement, the ECJ will be the final arbiter in any future trade dispute between the two parties over the operation of the Protocol.
The UK now wants to remove that provision and replace it with an independent arbitration process.
The European Commission has insisted it will not proceed on the ECJ issue.
It has been pointed out that Northern Ireland would be unable to maintain unfettered single market access, a key provision of the Protocol, if the arrangement is not subject to oversight by European judges.
Lord Frost has warned that if an acceptable agreement cannot be reached, the UK could move to suspend parts of the protocol by triggering an Article 16 mechanism.
The EU plan is the equivalent of a set of counterproposals in response to a wish list of protocol reforms outlined by the UK government in July.
The proposals from both sides are now set to form the basis of a new round of talks between Brussels and London in the coming weeks.
Earlier on Wednesday, Lord Frost stressed that access to the ECJ was a major issue.
“The problem with the protocol at the moment is that EU law, with the ECJ as its enforcer, is implemented in Northern Ireland without any kind of democratic process,” he told broadcasters.
“So, I think, if we have to find governance, we have to be with the people.”
Irish Premier Michael Martin Supported the proposals of the European Union.
The Taoiseach said they were a “clear way forward and a clear way out of the issues”.
Mr Martin said the European Commission has…