The Northern Ireland Protocol comes into force from 1 January 2021. The Protocol is a solution designed to reconcile the UK’s decision to leave the EU with the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland. It reflects the specific challenges Brexit poses for Northern Ireland, due to its land border with the Republic of Ireland (an EU Member State) and its position as part of both the UK and the island of Ireland.
The Protocol is a significant change for Northern Ireland. On 1 January 2021, the UK will cease to apply EU laws, but under the Protocol some EU laws will continue to apply in Northern Ireland. The Protocol therefore creates new areas of legal divergence between Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK. The Protocol also creates entirely new mechanisms, such as the requirement that Northern Ireland must periodically renew its consent to parts of the Protocol. The Protocol will therefore form an important part of Northern Ireland’s legal and constitutional architecture.
The Committee has launched an inquiry on the Northern Ireland Protocol to scrutinise the Protocol’s implementation and to examine its consequences for government, people and businesses.
Terms of reference
The Committee would welcome the submission of evidence that addresses:
- the preparedness of government, public services and businesses for the Protocol taking effect on 1 January 2021;
- the implications of the Protocol for intra-UK Government and public service co-operation, and for intra-UK trade;
- the implications of the Protocol for intergovernmental and public service co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and for trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland;
- the implications of the Protocol for citizens’ rights and access to public services on the island of Ireland;
- the implications of the Protocol for the Northern Ireland economy and for investment in Northern Ireland;
- the implications of the Protocol for devolution, including:
- Northern Ireland’s position in the UK internal market;
- Northern Ireland’s ability to benefit from the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy; and
- how the Protocol interacts with the UK’s new system of common policy frameworks;
- the implications of new legislation on the operation of the Protocol;
- the interaction between the Protocol and the future relationship between the UK and the EU;
- how the Protocol can be implemented effectively, including in a scenario where no UK-EU future relationship is agreed;
- potential mechanisms to facilitate parliamentary scrutiny of the operation of the Protocol, including:
- scrutiny of any new UK or EU laws that would create a divergence between Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK after the end of the transition period; and
- scrutiny of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee and its specialised committees.
This inquiry is currently accepting evidence
The committee wants to hear your views. We welcome submissions from anyone with answers to the questions in the call for evidence. You can submit evidence until Thursday 31 December 2020.