Continued “can-kicking” does not provide the certainty and stability our economy requires, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said, following the extension of the current grace periods around the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The move, confirmed by the UK Government via a written ministerial statement, will indefinitely continue the current UK Approach to the Protocol, which in effect unilaterally extends the current periods.
“This should have been a formal statement subject to scrutiny in Parliament rather than being issued via a written ministerial statement,” said the North Down MP.
“Alliance is conscious while the Northern Ireland Protocol is the outworking of the UK’s decisions on Brexit and the resultant need to address the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, it does provide some significant challenges.
“In the absence of wider agreement on how to address the issues being faced by businesses, consumers and others, the current grace periods do need to be extended. This is far better done by mutual agreement between the UK and the EU rather than unilateral action.
“Continued can-kicking doesn’t provide the certainty and stability that our economy requires. While these moves by the UK Government may provide some short-term relief, longer term solutions on areas such as SPS check and medicines are already available. This requires flexibility and creativity on the part of both the UK and EU. There also needs to be relaxations to assist with labour market pressures in Northern Ireland, and across the UK.
“In particular, a bespoke UK-EU Veterinary Agreement offers the most comprehensive and sustainable approach to the reduction a large volume of checks. This would not only ease the tensions regarding the operation of the Protocol, but assist all UK agri-food exports. However, the political will in the UK Government does not yet exist, with Brexit ideology getting in the way.”