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UK Government and EU Commission need to address trade flow problems, says Farry

Alliance MP Stephen Farry has called for the European Commission and the UK Government to jointly address some of the issues currently affecting trade flows into Northern Ireland, through additional flexibilities and derogations.

The North Down MP said some problems being experienced had arose from a lack of planning and information given on short notice, which could be addressed by the UK Government, but where structural problems were evidence, it fell to the EU and UK to jointly work through the mechanisms of the Withdrawal Agreement to find solutions.

The Alliance Deputy Leader said calls to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol were “simplistic and ineffective”.

“There are current problems of movement of some goods into Northern Ireland which are causes of great concern for businesses and consumers,” said Dr Farry.

“While some goods are getting through, there are some common threads as to why others are being held up or not even starting out. Some of the problems arise from a very tight timescale for implementation, poor information, and lack of engagement from companies based in Great Britain. These are matters the UK Government has the capacity to address by itself. 

“Deeper challenges lie with Brexit itself and the nature of the UK-EU trade deal. They are being manifested across the UK. Northern Ireland is not alone in that respect. However, there are issues arising from the specific terms of and operational decisions around the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

“With those structural issues, these can only be addressed through fresh flexibilities and derogations being agreed by the UK Government and the European Commission through the Joint Partnership Committee and the Specialised Committee. Those pushing Article 16 of the Protocol as a remedy are offering a populist and ineffective solution. No major business organisation is calling for Article 16 to be invoked.  

“I am continuing to lobby both the UK Government and the European Commission to find appropriate solutions.”