Role of European court is one of thorniest issues remaining

One of the thorniest remaining NI Protocol issues is the oversight role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 18th December 2021, 8:14 am

The UK Government has previously insisted the total removal of the ECJ’s function was a red line, while the EU made clear Northern Ireland could not retain unfettered access to the single market without the ECJ overseeing matters of EU law.

It remains unclear whether a compromise position can be reached, potentially one that could see a more limited role for the ECJ – confined to only EU law matters – with an independent mechanism dealing with wider arbitration issues.

Mr Sefcovic said the ECJ was not within his negotiating mandate.

EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic

“Without the European Court of Justice we cannot have a properly functioning single market and I have to repeat again my impression that when I was talking to the stakeholders in Northern Ireland, the political and civic society representatives and business leaders, this issue was barely mentioned, because the people want us to focus on solving the issues like the medicines,” he said.

While acknowledging the EU move on medicines, Lord Frost said there had been “much less progress in other areas”.

“Overall, with the potential exception of medicines, I do not believe that the negotiations are yet close to delivering outcomes which can genuinely solve the problems presented by the protocol,” he said.

The Brexit minister said the UK had been prepared to consider an “interim agreement” on the outstanding issues pending a “comprehensive solution” being reached.

He said even an interim agreement had not been possible at this point.

“A solution needs to be found urgently early next year.” he said. “For as long as there is no agreed solution, we remain ready to use the Article 16 safeguard mechanism if that is the only way to protect the prosperity and stability of Northern Ireland and its people.”

The proposed EU law change would allow companies in GB could continue to act as a hub for the supply of generic medicines to Northern Ireland.

The proposals would also apply to other small markets which use GB medicines, including the Irish Republic, Malta and Cyprus.