Sinn Féin National Chairperson and Junior Minister in the northern power sharing Executive Declan Kearney has welcomed the admission by British government cabinet minister, Michael Gove during a European scrutiny committee hearing at Westminster yesterday that any difficulties with implementation of the Protocol can be resolved.
The South Antrim MLA said:
“Yesterday’s recognition by Michael Gove that any issues affecting smooth operation of the Protocol can and should be resolved within the context of the Protocol itself, is a welcome intervention prior to the Joint Committee meeting in London this week with European Commission Vice President Marcoš Šefčovič, and a delegation of Commission officials.
“This follows on from the joint communique issued by both Michael Gove and Maroš Šefčovič last week after discussions with the joint first ministers in the north to address fallout from the serious blunder by European officials regarding the supply of COVID-19 vaccinations.
“During that meeting the Commission Vice President was emphatic that the error caused was unintentional and that both he and his officials were fully committed to finding solutions to ensure smooth operation of the Protocol.
“The subsequent communique released then committed both the British government and European Commission to proper implementation of the Protocol. The next day I told Michael Gove that this statement also set the correct tone in advance of the forthcoming Joint Committee meeting.
“Already some practical fixes have been found for initial operational glitches with the Protocol. Notably senior British government officials told the same committee yesterday that the Protocol is not having any appreciable disruption on trade flows from Britain into the north, with trade flow reportedly higher from Britain into the six counties than during the equivalent week last year.
“While the Protocol is imperfect, it is the jointly agreed mechanism to mitigate the impacts on economic relations within the new trading realities created by Brexit.
“Both the British government and European Commission have a shared responsibility to work constructively together within the established parameters of the Protocol. The Irish government also has an important role to play in assisting with that.
“The forthcoming meeting in London should concentrate upon ensuring use of all the available provisions within the Protocol framework to minimise disruption to our local businesses, and to maximise the opportunities for them to benefit from free-flowing trade between Britain and Ireland, and with the European single market.”