Into the Unknown: Implementing the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland
Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland, 2020
19 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2020 Last revised: 1 Sep 2020
Date Written: July 21, 2020
The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has shone a spotlight on Northern Ireland’s reliance upon a delicately interwoven balance of political, economic and social factors, which are often beyond its control. The Protocol’s complex trading terms require implementation before the 31 December 2020 to avoid damaging consequences for Northern Ireland’s economy. Efforts towards implementation are taking place alongside the UK Government’s negotiation of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and moves to prevent barriers to trade emerging between the UK’s constituent parts. The UK Government’s prioritization of a “clean-break” Brexit for Great Britain has, however, exacerbated the vulnerability of Northern Ireland’s position amid these changes. This paper explores the workings of these dynamics, addressing how barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain have previously existed without being perceived to be a threat to the Union. We examine how the politics of Brexit is impacting upon the Protocol’s implementation, and suggest that the UK Government is harnessing the potential for collateral damage being inflicted upon Northern Ireland’s economy to generate a narrative of threats to the Union as a means of bolstering its negotiating position.
Keywords: Northern Ireland, Brexit, European Union Law, British Politics
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