Last reviewed 14 October 2021

As we forecast earlier this week, the European Commission has put forward its suggestions for amending the Northern Ireland Protocol to try to overcome the difficulties being experienced in trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It has not, however, responded to the speech made by the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Lord Frost, in which he stated that the UK could not accept an arrangement which kept the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) as the final arbiter in any disputes (see UK puts new red line into Northern Ireland talks with EU).

The Commission has said that it “stands ready to engage in intensive discussions with the UK Government”, with a view to reaching a jointly agreed permanent solution as soon as possible.

Its latest package of proposals includes further flexibilities in the area of food, plant and animal health, customs, medicines and engagement with Northern Irish stakeholders.

The Commission proposes a different model for the implementation of the Protocol, in which the flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland — in respect of goods destined to stay in Northern Ireland — would be facilitated to a significant extent.

The flexible customs formalities which it is proposing would, the Commission argues, mean a 50% reduction in paperwork.

Details of the Commission proposals can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_21_5230.

Speaking for the Commission, Vice-President Maros Šefčovič said: “I have listened to and engaged with Northern Irish stakeholders. Today's proposals are our genuine response to their concerns.”