Truss considers triggering Article 16 over N Ireland protocol


Liz Truss is contemplating plans to set off “Article 16” proceedings towards the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol inside days of coming into Downing Street if she succeeds Boris Johnson as prime minister subsequent month, in accordance with a number of authorities insiders.

The UK and Brussels are locked in a fractious authorized stand-off over implementing the deal overlaying post-Brexit buying and selling preparations in Northern Ireland, which has soured EU-UK relations because it got here into pressure in January 2021.

Officials near Truss have consulted authorized and trade specialists over the plans in latest weeks. Allies mentioned triggering Article 16 would offer a stop-gap whereas the laws to unilaterally rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol passes by the Commons, which isn’t anticipated till the top of this 12 months on the earliest.

The British authorities tabled laws in June to tear up the deal, prompting the European Commission to relaunch authorized proceedings towards the UK for failing to correctly implement Irish Sea border checks.

Triggering Article 16 would successfully exhaust authorized choices earlier than the UK authorities adopted by on its menace to unilaterally junk the protocol.

The UK has till September 15 to answer the EU authorized motion — solely 10 days after the Tory chief enters Downing Street. But insiders with information of Truss’s plans mentioned if she turned prime minister she might set off Article 16 earlier than that deadline so as to defend UK enterprise.

Truss’ marketing campaign mentioned her choice was for “a negotiated solution” however acknowledged (*16*).

Allies of Truss insist she was not “pushing” to set off Article 16 however that it remained an choice on the desk if she turned prime minister.

One official near the international secretary mentioned: “Some government officials have raised concerns about issues coming down the track and have presented many options to ministers to deal with them.”

The deliberate transfer dangers ratcheting up tensions with Brussels early in a Truss premiership, however marketing campaign insiders argued that the motion can be important to protect the buying and selling establishment in Northern Ireland.

Under the phrases of the protocol all items going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland should observe EU guidelines, making a trade border within the Irish Sea that the UK authorities has declared “unworkable”.

The EU has warned that if the UK rips up the protocol it dangers sparking a trade battle with Europe and doubtlessly even suspending all the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was negotiated between the 2 sides.

Until relations broke down in June, each had agreed to a “standstill arrangement” that required lighter-touch implementation of the deal. However, Truss allies mentioned the EU authorized motion had successfully ended that settlement by reverting to a requirement for full implementation.

The UK mentioned in July 2021 that the situations had already been met to justify utilizing Article 16, which may be triggered if both aspect believes the protocol has led to “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.

Once triggered, the 2 sides enter into “immediate consultation” within the joint committee that governs the deal, however both aspect can take “proportionate rebalancing measures” if settlement can’t be reached.

Truss’s plans come after HM Revenue & Customs notified British metal producers this week that they should pay a 25 per cent tariff to promote sure building merchandise into Northern Ireland due to the protocol.

Steel business representatives described the scenario as “farcical”, whereas a UK authorities spokesman mentioned the tariffs have been an instance of how the protocol is “needlessly damaging” trade inside the UK and “why it needs to be urgently fixed”.

The tariffs transfer was cited by a Truss ally as to why she intends to behave. “We can’t go on like this and something needs to break the deadlock.”

The European Commission mentioned the UK had not supplied the information it wanted to resolve the tariffs challenge, which was triggered on account of modifications to total import quotas for the EU in July.

It declined to touch upon the potential triggering of Article 16.

Earlier this month the UK authorities began a separate authorized continuing towards Brussels after the fee blocked the UK’s affiliate membership of the EU’s €95.5bn Horizon Europe science programme.

Participation in Horizon was negotiated in 2020 as a part of the EU-UK trade deal however has been withheld due to the UK’s failure totally to honour the deal over Northern Ireland, EU officers have confirmed.

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