Commissioner Mairead McGuinness. [Rolling News .ie]

Protocol plan is due: Commissioner

The European Commission is within weeks of presenting a package that it hopes will break the impasse over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Ireland’s Commissioner Mairead McGuinness made the claim during an interview with RTÉ. 

The EU and UK have been at loggerheads for the best part of a year since the introduction of the protocol, which has created an Irish Sea trade border. The protocol was negotiated between the EU and UK and came into effect in January.

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With NI exiting the EU along with the UK, the protocol sees Northern Ireland remaining in the European single market for goods, thus keeping the border in Ireland open, with goods from the UK instead being checked at Northern Ireland ports.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has threatened to bring down Stormont if his concerns over the protocol are not met within weeks. London is operating the protocol as it currently stands, however, it has announced open-ended extension to grace periods for trade across the Irish Sea.

Speaking in London Mairead McGuinness said that the EU wants to address the difficulties of the protocol but warned that it “will not be renegotiated."

“I think it is very important to state that very clearly and I think our UK friends understand that,” she said. “It may be a difficult message but it is important because then we can focus on dealing with the difficult issues at ground level for businesses.”

The former Fine Gael MEP said it was her view that “within a few weeks time there will be a considerable package to address those really specific concerns."

“And for example on medicines, the European Union has no desire and would never deprive the people of Northern Ireland with the supply of medicine so we will fix that, that is essential. 

“Secondly, in relation to plant and animal health this is a difficult area but voices in Northern Ireland want an agreement in SPS (Sanitary and phytosanitary) as we call it, so an agreement on these issues. 
“I’m not sure if that’s the view within London within the political bodies but I would ask them to look at that because it would be a big part of the solution and I would really stress that the effort in Brussels led by Maros Sefcovic (Vice President of European Commission) to find practical solution and to bring our members states with us on this is immense and I believe we will deliver on that in finding solutions.”