Business groups urge UK and EU to sort out Protocol issues

Business groups in Northern Ireland have appealed to the UK Government and the EU to get back round the table to sort out difficulties over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 7:28 am
Trucks arrive at Larne port
Trucks arrive at Larne port

The NI Business Brexit Working Group said that by agreeing to solutions such as a trusted trader scheme and a veterinary agreement, the EU and UK Government could maintain the single market, but still minimise the impact on communities in Northern Ireland.

The protocol has effectively created a trading barrier between Great Britain and Northern Ireland by leaving the region tied to a range of EU customs and regulatory rules.

The new raft of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne has also led to difficulties for traders.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will not hesitate to take unilateral action to protect the position of Northern Ireland in the increasingly bitter row over trading arrangements with the EU drags on.

The Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group, made up of a number of leading business, manufacturing and agriculture organisations, said it was “deeply disappointed at the lack of substantial progress” in last week’s Joint Committee meeting between the UK and EU.

A spokesperson said: “Businesses are frustrated that yet another opportunity has been missed.

“Urgent action must come not only because we are reaching the end of this grace period, but also because businesses want to avoid passing on additional costs to households.

“We need to see the EU and UK Government meet again before the end of June, to find common ground and deliver on their commitments in the NI Protocol

The spokesperson added: “By agreeing to solutions such as a trusted trader scheme and a veterinary agreement, the EU and UK Governments maintain the single market, but ultimately minimise the impact on NI communities by protecting retail movements, in particular, between GB-NI.

“What is needed now is the political will on both sides to see these solutions delivered.

“The NI business community has met the challenges of the protocol head on.

“We believe the Protocol can deliver opportunities for Northern Ireland, but these can only be realised when both sides work together. Restoring trust, smoothing trade and reducing tensions must be upmost in policymakers’ minds.”