Northern Ireland news

UK government warned there is 'no legal or political justification' for unilateral action on NI Protocol

Simon Coveney, the Republic's Minister for Foreign Affairs. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE British government has been warned that there is "no legal or political justification" for unilateral action on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

In a joint message from the Irish and German governments, they urged the UK authorities "to step back from their unilateral approach and show the same pragmatism and readiness to compromise the EU has shown".

Writing in The Observer newspaper, the Republic's Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the protocol explicitly recognised the north's constitutional position within the UK.

They also said it was bringing real economic benefit to the north and protecting the EU's single market.

"There is no legal or political justification for unilaterally breaking an international agreement entered into only two years ago," they said.

"The tabling of legislation will not fix the challenges around the protocol.

"Instead it will create a new set of uncertainties and make it more challenging to find durable solutions."

The two ministers also said that the EU had listened to concerns about some aspects of the protocol's operation and had changed its laws to fix issues around the supply of medicines as well as offering other possible flexibilities.

"We urge the British government to step back from their unilateral approach and show the same pragmatism and readiness to compromise the EU has shown," they said.

"By working together in partnership and with mutual respect, common ground can be found and challenges no matter how difficult overcome."

The statement also said that Northern Ireland businesses had been given continued access to the EU's 450 million consumers and had paved the way for the wider EU/UK trade agreement.

They said this had allowed Northern Ireland econong to grow and bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic faster than elsewhere in the UK.

They added that with Russia's war on Ukraine, now was the time for the UK and the EU to show they were standing together.

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