Published: Thu, 09 February 2023
Securing a post-Brexit sanctions mechanism to protect EU interests may help ensure a deal is achieved on the Northern Ireland Protocol, according to Seán Kelly MEP and lead negotiator for the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee.
“Before Christmas, the Parliament, Council and Commission reached a deal on new EU legislation. It will empower the European Commission to adopt trade retaliation measures should the UK breach its obligations under post-Brexit agreements, including the Northern Ireland Protocol. Securing an agreement between all three European institutions was an important step in progressing the ongoing negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol”, MEP Kelly said.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking from Brussels where a majority of MEPs have just voted to endorse the deal, in a joint sitting of the European Parliament’s Trade, Foreign Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committees.
“There is increasingly positive mood music surrounding a potential EU-UK deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol. I commend the constructive approach we are seeing from both the EU and UK negotiating teams. It goes without saying that I sincerely hope that this trade enforcement mechanism never has to be used,” Kelly continued.
“However, we should remember that only a few months ago, we were watching in shock as Liz Truss’ Northern Ireland Protocol Bill made its way through the House of Commons. A Bill that would have empowered government ministers to unilaterally dis-apply parts of the Protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement if it became law.”
“Given past UK government antics in this regard, it makes absolute sense for the EU to protect its interests. Indeed, the EU side would be foolish not to”, the Fine Gael MEP warned.
“Under this Regulation, we have ensured that the Commission could act swiftly to impose trade restrictions should the UK government follow through with its Protocol Bill. It would seem likely that this sanctions mechanism along with other motivating factors, would have been a consideration for the Conservative government when they re-entered negotiations with the EU after Christmas” , Kelly continued.
“Reaching agreement on this Regulation was an important step in progressing these talks, we showed that Brussels was serious about the commitments made with the UK and that all three European institutions are acting as one in regards to post-Brexit arrangements.”
MEP Kelly is also currently leading negotiations on a new report on the operation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. “Continued engagement with business and institutional stakeholders is key to monitoring how the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is working for Irish and EU business”, Kelly underlined, ahead of chairing a meeting of the European Parliament’s UK Monitoring Group this afternoon.