Northern Ireland Protocol deal is political test for PM Sunak

27.02.2023 16:35

Northern Ireland Protocol deal is political test for PM Sunak


The deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol offers practical solutions and hope to people and businesses in the region, according to leading EPP Group MEPs. However, they have warned that strong leadership is needed to overcome remaining political hurdles.

"Today is a good day for EU-UK relations. The deal will lower the costs of doing business for traders. It will also settle the flow of goods from Great Britain into Northern Ireland without breaching EU rules related to the Single Market”, said Danuta Hübner MEP, who has been the negotiator of all Brexit-related laws in the European Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Hübner also underlined that the UK's Protocol Bill should be promptly withdrawn: “Looking forward, I hope that settling issues linked to the Protocol will open the path to solving other pending issues, and that the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will be promptly and fully withdrawn and the EU Retained Law Bill will not lower the UK’s obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement, the Protocol, and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement nor damage their enforcement mechanisms."

A political test lies ahead before the deal can become reality, according to Seán Kelly MEP, First Vice-Chair of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly: "We all want to see this agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol become a reality in order to provide stability and more certainty for people and businesses in the region. A resolution of this impasse offers the hope for the eventual return of the Northern Ireland Assembly so that the electorate may have proper representation. It is also very important economically, by offering businesses the chance to seize trading opportunities not only in terms of Northern Ireland, but also from an all-island perspective.

"The EU recognised the challenges in terms of implementing the Protocol and the Commission has been more than patient and very flexible in negotiations in order to find workable solutions. Now, we need to see strong, responsible leadership within the Conservative Party and the DUP in particular. This moment is a real political test for Prime Minister Sunak. The Prime Minister must create a coalition of the logical, who are capable of looking beyond the immediate term, to communicate the fact-based realities of the situation in order to make this deal a reality”, Kelly said.

The deal is an important step towards restoring EU-UK relations, according to Christophe Hansen MEP, EPP Group Spokesman on Trade: “Now that the delusional Brexit bubble has been burst by reality, I am glad that a pragmatic solution has been found to resolve the challenges surrounding the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. Though it still needs to clear many institutional hurdles, I welcome this hard-fought progress as a sign of hope that will allow two natural allies to cooperate more closely on pressing matters such as the war in Ukraine.”

Note to editors

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 176 Members from all EU Member States

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