The UK Government triggering Article 16 would achieve nothing except making negotiations of solutions to issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol more difficult, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said.
The Alliance Deputy Leader said the move, which has been hinted at by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is “not the silver bullet its advocates believe”.
“We have already seen a lot of bluff and bluster from the UK Government around addressing the challenges raised by the Northern Ireland Protocol, including repeated threats around the use of Article 16,” he said.
“Its triggering is not the magic bullet that its advocates think it is. It doesn’t scrap or remove the Protocol. Only after a period of further structured negotiations can any element of the Protocol even be suspended.
“The unwarranted use of Article 16 would only serve to further sour UK relations with the EU, and invite the use of counter-balancing measures which would hurt the UK economy. It would also undermine the already fragile relationship between the UK and US Governments.
“Any invocation of Article 16 over the coming days would be bizarre. The UK has already unilaterally and indefinitely extended the various grace periods, and the EU is set to publish its own proposals during the week following the Conservative Party Conference.
“The fundamentals remain the same. With any version of a hard Brexit, Northern Ireland will require some special arrangements. The Protocol exists for that reason. But it is both right and an imperative to mitigate the impact of the Protocol as much as possible, and crucially, to also take advantage of the relative opportunities that arise for Northern Ireland. There are readily available solutions of SPS checks, medicines and the definition of ‘goods at risk’.
“The only path forward involves the UK and EU working together to find solutions consistent with their legal requirements.”