Protocol has created ‘feast or famine’ economy in Northern Ireland, House of Lords report finds

The Northern Ireland Protocol has created a “feast or famine” economy in the region with some businesses struggling while others flourish, a parliamentary report has found.

The House of Lords committee that examined the post-Brexit Irish Sea trading regime found that companies involved in trade with the rest of the UK were being constrained by excess red tape, while trading with Ireland and the wider European Union had more Dependent people were benefiting.

The Committee stressed the urgent need to resolve the issues created by the Protocol and called on the EU and the UK to re-engage in dialogue.

The committee’s report comes amid a rift in ties between London and Brussels over the UK government’s controversial plan to pass legislation in Westminster that would empower ministers to unilaterally rip up large parts of the protocol.

Colleagues said both sides need to recommend rebuilding trust and repairing damaged relationships and finding an agreed solution. He said a “mutually agreed solution” was the best outcome as he urged for compromise.

The protocol was agreed upon by the European Union and the UK in 2019 as a way to avoid a difficult land border on the island of Ireland.

It did this by moving regulatory and customs procedures across the Irish Sea, creating new checks on goods shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

While businesses involved in carrying GB goods in the region have been affected by additional bureaucracy, businesses in Northern Ireland involved in selling in the EU can do so without restriction, giving them a potential advantage over competitors in the rest of the UK. Is.

Lord Jay of Ivelme, who chaired the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Committee, said: “The Committee’s engagement with businesses doing business in and with Northern Ireland has demonstrated that, while much uncertainty remains, the economic implications of the Protocol The effect is slowly becoming apparent.

“The situation was described to us as ‘feast or famine’, whereby businesses are able to take advantage of protocol gains, while those dependent on trade with Great Britain lose out.”

In preparing its report, the committee took evidence from the five largest parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly, representatives of the UK and Irish governments, business representatives, academia and civil society.

Pearce said the maritime boundary has increased bureaucracy, resulting in additional pressure on companies’ employee resources, increased costs and increased delivery times.

He said the arrangements had a “disproportionately negative impact” on small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


A Border Force officer returns papers to a haulage driver after checking at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Northern Ireland Point of Entry (POE) Belfast Port site

The Committee noted that there remains a concern that businesses in GB will eventually decide to withdraw from the Northern Ireland market.

Examining the businesses that are benefiting from the protocol, the committee highlighted the dairy and meat processing industries, which are dependent on complex Cross-border supply chain on the island of Ireland.

He said those regions would suffer if access to the EU’s single market was lost.

The committee has identified a number of solutions that have been advocated by the business community in Northern Ireland.

These include a call for “proportionality” in the application of rules and controls on Irish maritime trade and differential treatment for GB goods, whose final destination is Northern Ireland, compared to those destined for onward transport in the European Union.

One of the UK’s favorite proposals is the creation of a dual regulatory system whereby businesses can choose to comply with EU product standards or UK regulations.

The committee said there was “widespread concern” among business people about the practical feasibility and implications of the proposal for cross-border supply chains.

The report is a follow-up to an introductory report published by the committee 12 months ago.

Lord Jay said: “The business representatives have put forward a number of mitigations and solutions to reduce the practical impact of the Protocol, and many of these proposals have remained unchanged since the Committee’s initial report in July 2021.

“At that time, we stressed the need for dialogue to resolve issues arising under the Protocol in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland. It is with great regret that the political dialogue regarding the Protocol has deteriorated further during the twelve months has occurred.

“There is an urgent need to resume talks. We therefore make a renewed commitment to working together to put Northern Ireland’s interests first, to participate together in constructive engagement, to work together to rebuild trust, the political parties in Northern Ireland. , and call on the UK and EU to engage with stakeholders and the Irish Government. and engage in effective relationship-building.

“As one of our witnesses told us, the people negotiating the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement were determined to appreciate the perspectives of others and the ability to work together despite historical differences and take risks to achieve a common goal. Reason was able to do this. Such a courageous approach is needed now.”