November 17, 2021

Latest Brexit news - November 2021

Are the UK preparing to pull the Article 16 trigger?

During the arduous Brexit negotiations, many of the issues and red lines surrounded Northern Ireland, with the number one question, how could a deal be reached that retained the open border into the Republic of Ireland, who are in the EU, and Northern Ireland, that are effectively leaving with the UK and maintain the Good Friday Agreement? The answer appeared to be the Northern Ireland Protocol, that retained the open border, with free movement of goods, services and people, however, the sacrifice was that there had to be a regularity border between Great Britain for the Protocol to work. For many of the Unionists, the agreement appears to bring the North closer to the Republic and a separation from Britain.

The Sausage War

Under EU rules, chilled meats cannot be imported from 3rd countries into the EU, given that Northern Ireland are complying with EU regulation under the Northern Ireland Protocol it means that the rule also applies to chilled meat shipments from Great Britain into Northern Ireland, which includes products such as sausages. In July 2021, the UK government lobbied the EU to change the protocol to enable chilled meat trade to continue. The UK’s Chief Negotiator Lord Frost stated that if an agreement could not be found then Article 16 would be invoked. The EU may resort to the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on British goods should article 16 be invoked. 

Article 16

This is the clause in the Northern Ireland protocol that safeguards the country against economic, social or environmental pressures that are likely to result in a long term problem or a diversion of trade, which any part of the agreement can be suspended by either side unilaterally.

UK requested changes

  • British & EU goods to circulate freely in Northern Ireland if confirming to either UK or EU standards - currently only EU regulation applies – the UK have submitted a proposal on how this would work
  • Remove the European Court of Justice from overseeing the protocol

The European Union have up until now refused any renegotiation of the text, but has tabled a proposal that would reduce regularity checks at the GB-NI border by around 80% also a relaxation of chilled meat rules which would facilitate the movement of sausages.

Additionally they propose a reduction in paperwork with the intention of allowing medicines to pass into Northern Ireland from GB. In return the EU would be looking for additional safeguarding measures that would ensure that products remained in Northern Ireland and not be moved into the Republic of Ireland.

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