There has been a dispute over the so-called Northern Ireland Agreement for years. Now the EU and Great Britain have apparently agreed on a compromise.
According to government circles, Great Britain and the European Union (EU) have reached an agreement in the long-standing Brexit dispute over the Northern Ireland Agreement. British media reports, citing a government official, that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed on changes to the protocol in Windsor on Monday. The Northern Ireland Protocol has regulated the status of the British province since Brexit a good three years ago.
Sunak and von der Leyen met this Monday to find a solution to the dispute that has been going on for three years. Von der Leyen and Sunak are expected to present the result at a press conference this afternoon. Sunak also wants to comment on this in Parliament in the evening.
Northern Irish Protestants were up in arms
The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit Treaty on Britain’s exit from the EU. It provides that the customs border between the UK and the EU runs in the Irish Sea. This was to prevent border controls between British Northern Ireland and the EU member Republic of Ireland having to be introduced. Otherwise it was expected that the conflict about unifying the two parts of Ireland would flare up again.
But the controls also cause difficulties in intra-British trade. Protestants in Northern Ireland, in particular, had opposed the protocol because they feared their country could be effectively cut off from the rest of the UK. The British government therefore wanted to renegotiate the contract.
How will Brexit hardliners react?
The dispute had put a strain on relations between Great Britain and the EU, but also on relations between Great Britain and Germany. It is now eagerly awaited whether Sunak will also find support for the agreement from Brexit hardliners in his Conservative Party and the Northern Irish Protestant Party DUP. The DUP has been blocking the formation of a new government in Northern Ireland for months in protest at the regulation.
Britain has been out of the European Union for three years following a referendum. The EU now consists of 27 members.