The European Union and the United Kingdom today held their eighth meeting of the Specialised Committee on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland by videoconference.
The two sides used the occasion to take stock of all outstanding issues on the implementation of the Protocol, as well as the state of play on the implementation on the ground. The EU called on the UK government to confirm that the common objective is to ensure full compliance with the Protocol.
Over the past few months, no fewer than 70 meetings of varying durations have taken place with the UK to find constructive and pragmatic solutions to all identified implementation issues. In each one of those meetings, the EU has explored all sorts of possibilities and solutions, and sought to clarify the UK’s position. The Commission took note of the UK’s recently submitted papers but noted that they did not address major implementation difficulties and that further clarification was required. In today's meeting, the EU recalled the package of measures announced on 30 June 2021 and mentioned the Commission’s plans for a legislative proposal in the autumn to ensure the long-term supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The EU confirmed its readiness to continue to seek creative solutions, within the framework of the Protocol, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland.
In the area of sanitary and phytosanitary rules (SPS), the EU referred to the recently agreed grace period for the movement of chilled meats from Great Britain to Northern Ireland until 30 September 2021. Its purpose is to allow stakeholders, in particular supermarkets in Northern Ireland, to complete the adjustment of their supply chains. The EU also recalled the other solutions announced on 30 June 2021 in relation to guide dogs and the facilitation of movements of livestock from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The EU reminded the UK that there would be a significant reduction in the number of certificates and controls needed, in accordance with the Protocol, between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK if it chose to have a comprehensive veterinary agreement following the EU’s SPS rules. Such agreement is the only workable solution that has been brought to the table so far.
The EU underlined the importance of joint action, through the joint bodies provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement, to provide stability and predictability for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland. It called on the UK to avoid unnecessarily straining relations through unilateral action.
Both sides have agreed to remain in contact next week to follow up on today’s meeting.
Finally, both parties agreed to continue joint engagement again with business groups, civil society and other stakeholders in Northern Ireland.
The Specialised Committee on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland is one of the six Specialised Committees established under the Withdrawal Agreement. Its role is to facilitate the implementation and application of this Protocol and make recommendations to the Joint Committee as regards the functioning of the Protocol.