EU to strengthen tools to tackle breaches of UK trade agreements

Seán Kelly MEP has been appointed lead author (Rapporteur) for the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee in drafting legislation aimed at strengthening the EU’s hand in responding to breaches of obligations under the post-Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the UK. 

“With the introduction of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in Westminster, which clearly is in breach of international law, there can be no doubt that the EU needs to make sure it has legal instruments required to protect itself. It is a shame to say, but the UK under Boris Johnson has become an unreliable diplomatic partner and ensuring we have proper enforcement tools could prove to be pivotal going forward”, said Kelly, a Member of the Parliament’s International Trade Committee.

“This is of particular relevance to Ireland and businesses operating across the entire island. This Regulation will help protect the all island economy by ensuring that level playing field provisions of the TCA and Withdrawal agreement are enforced. The Protocol has significantly increased cross-border trade and we are becoming more integrated from an economic perspective, with Northern Ireland seeing the benefits of access to both the EU’s single market and the GB market”, he said.

The Regulation establishes rules and procedures to govern the EU rights under both agreements, which if triggered if may result in the suspension of certain obligations under the agreement concerned.

“If there are breaches to the agreed trading conditions, with this Regulation the Commission will have the power to impose restrictions on trade, investment or other activities falling within the scope of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. If the UK does not cooperate using the appropriate dispute settlement mechanisms, the Commission would also now be afforded the means to take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect the single market and ensure fair treatment of all businesses.” 

“Ireland is on the frontline of Brexit and trade between north and south of border is vital for many sectors, particularly agriculture. Trade enforcement mechanisms are not something we want to see activated, but if there is a need it is much better to have them on the books than not. This is also about protecting the all-Ireland economy”, concluded Kelly.

When the draft is finalised, the Parliament’s report on the new Regulation will be presented for vote at committee level before progressing to a full plenary vote. 

The proposed Regulation aims to establish general principles and uniform conditions for the exercise of the EU’s rights to implement and enforce the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. It also aims to empower the Commission to adopt the necessary measures, including restrictions on trade, investment or other activities falling within the scope of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

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