Guarded Irish welcome for British North Protocol plan

Simon Coveney. photo.


By Irish Echo Staff

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and trade, Simon Coveney, has welcomed the publication of the British government's plan to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

However, speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Coveney said there would be skepticism in Europe when they hear the British government saying there will be no new physical infrastructure around customs.

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Mr. Coveney, according to an RTE report, said the plan appears to be straight forward in relation to animals and in relation to sanitary checks on food coming from Northern Ireland into Britain, however the really tricky area will be around customs.

He said that what London had unveiled was essentially an implementation plan from the British government to follow through on the commitments in the Withdrawal Agreement and in the Irish Protocol contained in it.

Mr. Coveney said a lot of technical discussion will be required around the commitments that have been made in the plan.

He said it was very clear in the language of the Irish Protocol that the EU will be entitled to have a presence to ensure its full implementation.

While Northern Ireland will remain legally part of the UK customs territory, it will need to be operated to the rules of the EU customs code. This means that UK authorities will need to implement the EU customs code in Northern Ireland.

The Tánaiste said the idea that this can be done without the need of physical infrastructure will raise a lot of questions on the EU side.

The Irish Times stated in a report that the government was playing down British insistence that there will be no new customs infrastructure either side of the Irish Sea once the UK is no longer bound by EU rules next year.

“However, senior government sources privately fear that Northern Ireland is set to become a key Brexit battleground again,” the Times report said.

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