A legislative proposal introduced in Great Britain is intended to reduce the trade barriers with Northern Ireland that have arisen as a result of Brexit. Critics say this threatens the integrity of the EU institutions.
The British Chamber of Commerce in Germany (BCCG) has sharply criticized the British government’s plans to partially overturn the special Brexit rules for Northern Ireland with a new law.
“The decision is a violation of international law and a serious threat to the peace process in Northern Ireland achieved through the Good Friday Agreement,” said BCCG board member Alexander Altmann of the German Press Agency in London.
If implemented, the plan could remove requirements for businesses in Northern Ireland to comply with certain EU rules, Altmann warned. This threatens the integrity of the EU institutions and jeopardizes the functioning of the EU internal market.
The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol is intended to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the EU state of Ireland, which could fuel tensions in the former civil war region. However, goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland must now be checked. Supporters of close ties between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom – also known as Unionists – fear this will alienate and decouple them from London.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced on Tuesday a bill intended to remove the newly created trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. London is thus freeing itself from the regulations negotiated with Brussels.
The Northern Ireland Protocol “is a working compromise that has been accepted by all EU member states and the UK,” Altmann said. “The unilateral amendment of the protocol now puts the entire trade deal in jeopardy and not only endangers peace on the island of Ireland, but also risks damaging trade between the UK and the EU even further.” The partner at the London auditing firm Blick Rothenberg emphasized that the London decision is contributing to the uncertainty of companies, especially in view of the exploding costs of energy, for example.