Post-Brexit grace period extended indefinitely
It was announced that the UK would again extend the grace period on checking goods entering Northern Ireland.
The update was announced following another round of unsuccessful negotiations with the EU. It is understood that there is no deadline or time limit placed on this grace period.
A government source told The Guardian that the government wanted to “create space for talks to happen without deadlines looming.”
In addition, they stated that the EU has been consulted on the decision and that it was “coordinated, if not agreed upon.”
The government source stated that the Northern Irish protocol “will carry on being operated as it is for now as long as there are talks ongoing.”
A spokesperson for the European Commission said that it would be “not moving to the next stage of the infringement procedure launched in March 2021, and is not opening any new infringements for now.”
Ireland’s view of the Northern Irish situation
In a speech given to the British-Irish Association in Oxford on 3rd September 2021, Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated that it was important to continue making progress and ensuring that all parties were aligned:
“With the right political will, I believe that it will be possible to find sensible solutions to some of the outstanding issues, within the framework of the Protocol.
I have no doubt that there is a willingness from the EU to engage and to work in good faith to minimise friction. And in my view progress is best made in the bodies set up under the Agreement, in a spirit of partnership, working at EU-UK level for agreed ways to resolve the issues that arise.
A positive and constructive future partnership is in everyone’s interest. But it will only be delivered if there is a relationship of trust, and a willingness to deliver on commitments entered into.
In the longer term, the real challenge will be to refocus the energy and capital currently being spent on Brexit to the task of reconciliation and of economic recovery in Northern Ireland, and indeed across these islands.”
Future electronic travel authorisation plans
Calls have also been made to the UK government to clarify how the proposed electronic travel authorisation (ETA) system would work for non-British and non-Irish nationals crossing the border in Northern Ireland.
A human rights group based in Belfast (the Committee on the Administration of Justice) have said that the initial plans for this ETA system do not take into account the nuances of the Common Travel Area, and there is a high potential for unintended consequences.
In a government paper published in July 2021 on the points-based immigration system, the paper stresses the importance of the Common Travel Area:
“There will continue to be no routine immigration controls on journeys from within the CTA to the UK, with no immigration controls whatsoever on the Northern Ireland – Ireland land border.”
The CAJ group further stated that:
“The failure to consider the nuances of the CTA and land border in particular is a glaring omission in the government’s white paper and further details paper.”
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