Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns highlighted importance of altering the NI protocol and branded the agreement as “unsustainable”. Referring to Article 16 of NI protocol which states that “safeguard measures” can be taken in case of societal difficulties, Mr Burns claimed it is vital that the treaty “differentiate between goods designated to Northern Ireland and those that are moving onwards through Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic”.
Mr Burns said: “This is the documentation that is required to bring containers in from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, movement of goods within our own country.
“This is unsustainable.
“This is what is required to bring stuff from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, within our own the United Kingdom.
“Under the provision of Article 16, it says that either side can unilaterally take safeguard measures if [the protocol is leading to serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist].
“If can’t get more societal interruption than not being able to form a government in Northern Ireland.
“But another point is that under Article 13, point 8 the protocol envisages the protocol being updated, renegotiated or indeed completely replaced by a new agreement.
“What we are trying to say to the EU is that vice-president Maros Sefcovic’s mandate needs to be broadened so that he can negotiate with us to find a landing zone.
“Where we absolutely protect the interests of the European Union single market.
“But also recognise the reality that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom internal market.
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“It is vital that we get to a point where there is cross community support, and we believe it is possible to do that with modest improvements on the way the protocol is being interpreted”.
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic claimed it is “simply not acceptable” for the UK to alter the NI Protocol.
He added: “It continues to be of serious concern that the UK government intends to embark on the path of unilateral action”
In light of the EU stance, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss responded warning that if the EU does not show “the requisite flexibility” the UK might have “no choice” but to change the agreement, explaining that this is a matter of “peace and security”.