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NI Protocol: Kelly report to ensure Article 16 mistake does not happen again

Published: Wed, 13 July 2022

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Seán Kelly MEP has tabled measures to prevent future “mistakes” such as in February 2021, when the European Commission announced and later withdrew its intention to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, as a lead author of new legislation aiming to empower EU tools to respond to breaches of post-Brexit deals.

The Ireland South MEP today presented his first draft report as Rapporteur for the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee on a Regulation which establishes rules and procedures to govern the EU rights under both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the UK. If triggered it may result in the suspension of certain obligations under the agreement concerned.

Mr Kelly called for the European Parliament to be informed in advance of any intention to adopt any measures against the UK: “In February of 2021, [European Commission] President von der Leyen rightfully expressed her deep regret over a mistake to triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“This was a particularly worrying episode and something we were particularly critical of at the time, but it was thankfully President von der Leyen quickly rectified it. With the amendments and text that I have proposed to this Regulation, this will not happen again”, Kelly said.

Addressing the high-level meeting of the Parliament’s trade, foreign and institutional affairs committees, Mr Kelly said the recent unilateral introduction of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill by the UK Government makes this new legislation even more important. However, Mr Kelly stressed that any counter measures taken by the EU in response to breaches must be proportionate and backed by evidence and data.

“The EU and its institutions remain united and clear that there is a way forward on the Northern Ireland Protocol – and that way is through negotiations”, he underlined.

MEP Kelly later added that the “UK Government must demonstrate the political will to find solutions to any issues related to the Northern Ireland Protocol, through genuine negotiations with the EU in order to resolve any concerns”. However, the current British Government has not truly endeavoured to negotiate since February according to Mr Kelly.

The Fine Gael MEP has called for timely negotiations on the text for a swift adoption of the new legislation.

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