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Northern Ireland Protocol

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 7 September 2021

My noble Friend, the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, the right hon. Lord Frost CMG, yesterday made the following written statement:

The Government set out in their 21 July Command Paper, “Northern Ireland Protocol: the way forward”, proposals to find a new balance in the operation of the protocol.

The Government proposed to the EU on 23 July a “standstill” arrangement to maintain the operation of the protocol on the current basis, and to pause current legal actions, to provide space for discussions on those proposals. The EU announced on 27 July that it was not, at that stage, moving to the next stage of the legal proceedings it started in March. There have since been initial technical talks between the UK and the EU. These will continue in order to determine whether a constructive process can be established for discussing and addressing the issues identified with the protocol.

Following on from this, to provide space for potential further discussions, and to give certainty and stability to businesses while any such discussions proceed, the Government will continue to operate the protocol on the current basis. This includes the grace periods and easements currently in force. Operational and other guidance will be updated to reflect this approach. We will ensure that reasonable notice is provided in the event that these arrangements were to change, to enable businesses and citizens to prepare.