Irish minister for foreign affairs Simon Coveney lectured the UK on how it should adapt its food standards yesterday after meeting EU colleagues. The Northern Ireland Protocol creates a customs border for goods in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The protocol is in place to ensure there is no land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which would breach the internationally binding Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Coveney said trade chaos could be avoided if the UK agreed to the EU’s demands of “equivalence” of standards.
At the meeting in Brussels where EU foreign affairs ministers convened, Irish foreign minister Mr Coveney said: “In some of those cases the UK government has the capacity to facilitate that change if they want to agree to a different approach when it comes to equivalence of standards, for example.
“So, if we had equivalence in terms of veterinary standards and sanitary and phytosanitary rules, that would create fewer barriers to free-flowing trade.”
Mr Coverney went on to assure the EU would be “flexible” and “generous” in easing the mechanisms of the Protocol for businesses in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s unionist politicians claim the Protocol effectively makes an “economic united Ireland” on the island of Ireland.
They are seeking to legally challenge the Northern Ireland Protocol over this sovereignty issue.
However, referring to the Protocol Mr Coveney told reporters: “Of course, people have a right to legally challenge anything they want to, but you know this has been voted on in the British Parliament.
“It’s part of an international treaty now, and I think we have an obligation to be honest with people.
“The protocol is here to stay.”
7.50 am update: DUP to legally challenge Northern Ireland Protocol and replace with an arrangement that “respects NI’s place in the UK”.
Northern Ireland unionist politician, the DUP’s Sir Jeffrey, has said some of his constituents had experienced problems trading with Britain.
He said it was the “responsibility of the government to act”.
He added: “In this centenary year, we expect the government to act and replace it with arrangements that respect NI’s place in the UK.”