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The Northern Ireland Protocol

The Northern Ireland Protocol is a practical solution to avoid a hard border with Ireland whilst ensuring the UK, including Northern Ireland, leaves the EU as a whole.

The Northern Ireland Protocol came into effect at the end of the transition period. There are special provisions which apply only in Northern Ireland while the Protocol is in force.

The Cabinet Office has published a detailed Command Paper outlining how they will meet the three commitments the Prime Minister gave to Northern Ireland in 2020.  The commitments are to ensure unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to the UK market, ensure no tariffs on internal UK trade, and support trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

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The guidance outlines that, under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the UK Government will ensure that:

  1. Moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain should take place as it does now – there will be no additional process, paperwork, or restrictions on Northern Ireland goods moving to Great Britain, delivering unfettered access.

  2. Changes for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be kept to an absolute minimum - with a new Trader Support Service, available to all traders at no cost, to be established to provide wraparound support, alongside guidance on the processes for food and agricultural products designed to uphold the longstanding status of the island of Ireland as a single epidemiological unit.

  3. Trade in goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and EU Member States, will continue unaffected, with no change at the border, no new paperwork, and no tariffs or regulatory checks.

  4. For trade with the rest of the world, Northern Ireland will benefit from UK FTAs – ensuring the benefits of those agreements are felt right across the United Kingdom.