Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, T.D., today made the following statement in response to the announcement by the British Government regarding implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Minister Coveney said:
“At the EU-UK Joint Committee on 24 February, the UK reiterated its commitment to the proper implementation of the Protocol, as well as the implementation of all decisions taken in the Joint Committee in December 2020.
The decision taken by the British Government today clearly undermines this commitment.
A unilateral announcement is deeply unhelpful to building the relationship of trust and partnership that is central to the implementation of the Protocol. I met earlier today with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis and with the Cabinet Office Minister now responsible for EU-UK relations, Lord Frost. I made clear to them my regret that the UK had moved in a unilateral way, rather than working in continued partnership with the EU in accordance with the EU-UK joint statements of 11 and 24 February.
I am well aware of the practical challenges Brexit has caused for business and citizens in Northern Ireland and have strongly supported efforts to ensure that issues are addressed within the existing framework of the Protocol. This includes in respect to modest extensions to grace periods being agreed between the UK and the EU in a spirit of partnership.
The Irish Government’s focus remains on ensuring that the Protocol, as an international agreement concluded by the EU and UK, is fully implemented. It is the agreed solution to the problems created on the island of Ireland by Brexit.
We will continue to deepen our engagement with stakeholders in Northern Ireland and welcome the strong commitment by the EU to do likewise.
It is vital that the current challenges are addressed in a spirit of cooperation and partnership and through the agreed mechanisms, so that Northern Ireland can benefit from the considerable positive opportunities created by the Protocol.”
3 March 2021