The solution proposed by the European Commission to the problems with the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol is inadequate. The leader of the unionist, protestant DUP, Jeffrey Donaldson, told European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic this on Thursday.
The Commission wants to significantly relax the rules on imports of food products into Northern Ireland, Sefcovic announced on Wednesday. Importers would have to submit far fewer certificates, the checks could be reduced by 80 percent in total. In order to make general freight transport easier, the Commission also wants to cut back on customs formalities. That should cut the paperwork in half. The Commission is also proposing specific measures to secure the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland.
Unionists in Northern Ireland have long said that the protocol, which is part of the Brexit deal between the UK and the EU, is driving a wedge between them and Britain. The solution that the Commission is now proposing will not change that, Donaldson claims. “These negotiations should not be a missed opportunity. We now have the opportunity to resolve this,” he said after meeting Sefcovic. “Removing some controls will not solve the problems of divergent rules that may arise tomorrow. If the state aid and VAT arrangements are not addressed, Northern Ireland’s long-term prospects will be damaged.”
The DUP wants to completely remove the border drawn by the protocol in the Irish Sea. Republican Sinn Féin is satisfied with the Commission’s proposals.