23rd May 2022

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Northern Ireland after Britain’s departure from the EU

The specter of Britain’s hasty exit from the EU, which has been closing in almost since the June 2016 referendum, has returned, months before the country’s planned departure on December 31.

  • But that’s not the most important feature of this week’s controversial legislation. which aims to replace the Irish protocol to the UK’s withdrawal agreement with the EU.
  • With the new bill, the government seeks to crush parts of the Withdrawal Agreement, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed with his 27 counterparts last October.
  • The agreement aimed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU.
  • According to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the agreement, the region would have to follow certain EU rules when it comes to trading with the Republic of Ireland.
  • The new law, the Finance and Internal Market Act, could override the legal force of the Withdrawal Agreement, which sparked angry reactions in Belfast.
  • The latter, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson abolished along with his 27 counterparts last October and now wants to leave, would revoke the terms of perhaps the most sensitive and sensitive parties in the untying of the UK’s 47-year relationship with the United States. .
  • When the Secretary of Northern Ireland informed the House of Commons that the internal market bill violates international law, the response on the continent and beyond was utter disbelief.
  • The outrage it sparked is reminiscent of the fury unleashed at home over the enlargement of Parliament at the same time last year, before it was overturned in a unanimous Supreme Court decision.
  • Two of Johnson’s conservative predecessors and EU leaders, among others, have criticized the new bill as a possible diminution of Britain’s honor and trust in the world community.

Political integrity

An accurate determination of the situation in Northern Ireland after Britain’s departure from the EU is very important on several levels. As a constituent territory of Great Britain, the region underpins the general identity and constitutional and political integrity of the country.

  • Northern Ireland’s relations with Great Britain and historic ties with the Republic of Ireland in the south strongly influence the future of the fragile peace that has prevailed across the island of Ireland since Friday’s saint Agreement 1998.
  • ET Given the geopolitical configuration that emerged after Britain’s departure, promoting Dublin’s interests within the EU is essential to preserving the centerpiece of post-war European integration, the lucrative single market.
  • Therefore, ensuring the maintenance of the existing soft border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in the new circumstances resulting from Britain’s departure from the bloc is essential for overall stability.
  • To this end, London and Brussels initially negotiated temporary support from Ireland in 2017-18, in which the entire UK would continue to join the EU customs union until an alternative is established.
  • Neither the exclusive trade in goods that this agreement entailed, nor the strict limits on the realization of commercial pacts with third countries, were acceptable both to the strong supporters of Brexit and to the politicians in favor of permanence in all parties.
  • Parliamentary debates on this withdrawal agreement were so controversial that three versions were rejected by huge margins in the House of Commons.
  • Protracted political unrest delayed the deadlines for leaving the EU from Britain at least three times and ultimately forced former Prime Minister Theresa May to resign in June 2019.

Alternative plan

Johnson’s alternative to approval was the establishment of customs controls in the Irish Sea to regulate the flow of goods to and from Great Britain from Northern Ireland and vice versa.

  • Dublin would have the best of both worlds, coming under the dual jurisdiction of the EU and the UK to safeguard the constitutional integrity and sovereignty of Great Britain, as well as that of the European single market.
  • Following Johnson’s overwhelming majority in the December 2020 general election, which was obviously a Brexit vote, dissenting voices from the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party have been silenced.
  • The government now claims it was unaware of the onerous provisions of the Irish protocol that required close regulatory alignment with the EU when the withdrawal deal was sealed in the tumultuous atmosphere of January.
  • Therefore, the amendments to the protocol introduced this week in the Internal Market Bill seek to empower the authorities to circumvent the jurisdiction of the EU in the areas of customs and state subsidies to industries.
  • Johnson defended the measure as necessary to protect the country from external dangers. Although the government has refused to withdraw the changes to Irish protocol, it is likely to be a risky political act on Johnson’s part.
  • Legislation may be another tactic to ensure the relaxation of EU demands for better access to the UK fish market. But the current government is dominated by members who strongly support Brexit even without a deal.
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