Statement by Vice-President Šefčovič on the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland following the Queen's Speech and accompanying background briefing notes

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC) i, gepubliceerd op dinsdag 10 mei 2022.

The European Union wishes to have a positive and stable relationship with the United Kingdom.

The Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland of the Withdrawal Agreement is an integral part of that relationship. It is the solution found with the current UK government in order to protect the 1998 Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions and therefore also avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, whilst protecting the integrity of the EU Single Market.

The EU has been open to joint work with the UK on implementing the Protocol to bring long-term legal certainty and predictability to the people and businesses in Northern Ireland. The EU remains open to such discussions. Only joint solutions will work. Unilateral action by the UK would only make our work on possible solutions more difficult.

From the very beginning, the EU has worked tirelessly to propose creative and durable solutions, showing flexibility on how the Protocol should be implemented. It has shown that solutions can be found without changing the Protocol. For instance, the EU has ensured that the same medicines continue to be available in Northern Ireland at the same time as in the rest of the UK.

We want to finalise these solutions as quickly as possible. But to do this, we need the UK government to show the same level of determination and creativity. With political will and genuine commitment, joint solutions to legitimate practical issues raised by people and businesses in Northern Ireland can be found within the framework of the Protocol.

The Protocol, as a cornerstone of the Withdrawal Agreement, is an international agreement. Its renegotiation is not an option. The European Union is united in this position.