Statements from the European Commission and Lord Frost

Both Lord Frost and the European Commission have issues statements on the 21 July Command paper which was published by the UK government.  There has been a formal confirmation that the GB-NII waiver for parcels continues for both B2C and B2B goods with no end date, B2B was previously due to end on 1 October and B2C 6 months from guidance being issued.

There is also confirmation from the Commission that they will take no further legal action as a result of this extension – so the temperature has calmed down and we understand the talks are making progress.  The Commission states:  The Commission reserves its rights in respect of infringement proceedings. At present, the Commission is not moving to the next stage of the infringement procedure launched in March 2021, and is not opening any new infringements for now.

Please find the statements below:

Statement made by Lord Frost (6 September)

The Government set out in its 21 July Command Paper, ‘Northern Ireland Protocol: the way forward(opens in a new tab)’, proposals to find a new balance in the operation of the Protocol.

The Government proposed to the EU on 23 July a ‘standstill’ arrangement to maintain the operation of the Protocol on the current basis, and to pause current legal actions, to provide space for discussions on those proposals. The EU announced on 27 July that it was not, at that stage, moving to the next stage of the legal proceedings it started in March. There have since been initial technical talks between the UK and the EU. These will continue in order to determine whether a constructive process can be established for discussing and addressing the issues identified with the Protocol.

Following on from this, to provide space for potential further discussions, and to give certainty and stability to businesses while any such discussions proceed, the Government will continue to operate the Protocol on the current basis. This includes the grace periods and easements currently in force. Operational and other guidance will be updated to reflect this approach. We will ensure that reasonable notice is provided in the event that these arrangements were to change, to enable businesses and citizens to prepare.

Statement by the European Commission following the UK announcement regarding the operation of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland (6 September)

We continue to stress that the Withdrawal Agreement is an international agreement. The Protocol is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement and the agreed solution between the UK and the EU to the problems caused by Brexit for the island of Ireland. Both sides are legally bound to fulfil their obligations under the Agreement.

Our focus remains on identifying long-term, flexible and practical solutions to address issues related to the practical implementation of the Protocol that citizens and businesses in Northern Ireland are experiencing. However, we will not agree to a renegotiation of the Protocol. The Commission continues to engage constructively with the UK, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland.

Our approach to the Protocol is based on the achievement of stability, certainty and predictability in line with the objectives of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement and in order to protect the Single Market. In this way, businesses and citizens in Northern Ireland will reap the full benefits of the Protocol and, in particular, the access to the Single Market it provides.

The Commission reserves its rights in respect of infringement proceedings. At present, the Commission is not moving to the next stage of the infringement procedure launched in March 2021, and is not opening any new infringements for now.

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