Northern Ireland protocol: victory of reason –

Northern Ireland protocol: victory of reason –

Brussels and London must stand together in the world. That only works if they get along.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shakes hands with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

Thaw in UK-EU relations. Sunak and von der Leyen Photo: Aaron Chown/dpa

Go then. The British government and the EU Commission have revised the controversial Northern Ireland protocol of their Brexit agreement. For years, London had claimed the protocol was impossible to apply because it cuts an EU customs border right through the UK. For years, Brussels has claimed that the renegotiation of the protocol is impossible because it is an integral part of the current Brexit agreement. Both were fundamentally correct and both together led to a dead end.

The British side has now largely prevailed. The so-called “Windsor Framework“, which Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen presented in Windsor on Monday, replaces key elements with new agreements that abolish the EU customs border for goods traffic between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and introduce a Northern Irish right of veto over the validity of EU internal market rules in Northern Ireland . These are two key concessions that Brussels had resisted for years.

Why not like this? After all, it was foreseeable that the protocol knitted with a hot needle in 2019 would not work in the long term. At that time, the aim was to solve the political blockade surrounding the British exit from the EU, nothing more. The text of the protocol itself provided for a review of its further validity after four years and the possibility of a revision. It was all a matter of political will. But for too long it became a power issue, with Northern Ireland held hostage by both sides. Brussels insisted on the protocol London insisted on abolition. None of it was realistic, but it was for profiling.

The Ukraine turning point has made these power games look increasingly ridiculous. Europe as a whole, EU or not, must stand together against Russian aggression. Under Boris Johnson, Britain became the European leader in supporting Ukraine. At the same time, Ukraine is pushing into the EU. So it makes no sense for London and Brussels to keep pushing each other. They should pull together in the world, and they have to do that at home first.

Sunak made it possible

Reason forced the EU to give way. It cannot be that the insistence on the “integrity” of the EU internal market undermines the Northern Irish autonomy institutions and thus undermines the Good Friday Agreement and the peace in Northern Ireland, i.e. does exactly the opposite of what was actually intended. Nor can it be that smuggling cocaine into the EU from South America is easier than sending a flowerpot from Liverpool to Belfast.

The claim for 100% application of the Northern Ireland Protocol with complete EU controls on all shipments of goods from the British island to the Irish island is hypocritical, if at the same time other EU external borders are only randomly checked and the most important container ports of the EU such as Antwerp and Rotterdam are gradually being integrated into the Slipping the grip of organized crime.

The concessions made in Brussels were politically feasible because they were no longer in London Boris Johnson reigns. His successor Liz Truss already began the process of rapprochement with the EU, her successor Rishi Sunak is considered unencumbered by Brexit politics and governs as a pragmatist who cleans up the chaos left behind by Johnson. It is to be hoped that no one in London or Belfast will now put stumbling blocks in his way, under the mistaken assumption that more chaos be somehow better.

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