Last-minute Brexit deal reached on Northern Ireland border checks

Posted By: December 09, 2020

Irish Congressional Briefing

Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

Claire Simpson. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A last-minute deal has been reached on post-Brexit border checks between Northern Ireland and Britaafter prime minister Boris Johnson dropped plans to allow British ministers to break international law.

The details of the deal, which is still only an agreement in principle, have not yet been published but British minister Michael Gove is due to make a statement to Parliament today.

The EU-UK Joint Committee said yesterday the deal will protect the Northern Ireland protocol, which will see The North continue to enforce the European Union’s customs rules and remain within the single market in goods.

 The committee said agreement was reached on “border control posts/entry points specifically for checks on animals, plants and derived products, export declarations, the supply of medicines, the supply of chilled meats, and other food products to supermarkets, and a clarification on the application of state aid under the terms of the protocol”.

However, it remains unclear whether the European Union will have official representation in Northern Ireland to allow the bloc to check the new rules are being enforced.

 The Withdrawal Agreement which saw the UK leave the EU came into force in February. The Northern Ireland protocol will kick in on January 1 when the Brexit transition period ends.

 British ministers had been criticized for providing powers to override the Withdrawal Agreement – and so breach international law – in the UK Internal Market Bill. The bill aimed to protect trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

 But Mr. Gove and his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic said in a statement yesterday that the British government would withdraw the controversial clauses of the bill.

 Wider trade talks between the UK and EU are continuing and it was feared last night that Britain may leave without a trade deal…