The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and the Northern Ireland Protocol came into effect on 1 January 2021. The Protocol provides that Northern Ireland will:
- Remain aligned to a number of EU rules, namely:
- The Union’s Customs Code (UCC)
- EU rules on VAT in respect of goods
- EU rules on product standards and sanitary and phyto-sanitary rules (SPS); and
- EU state aid rules
- Remain part of the UK’s customs territory and will apply EU duties on the movement of any goods that are deemed to be “at risk” of onward movement into the EU.
Key challenges for business
How does the UK-EU TCA and Protocol impact the rules for moving goods between GB to NI?
About the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill
In June 2022, the UK Government introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which seeks to introduce powers to not fully apply some parts of the original Protocol. Alongside this, the government also outlined a number of proposals to replace the existing arrangements.
These proposals included removing checks on goods to Northern Ireland not “at risk” of entering the Republic of Ireland and the EU’s Single Market via a “red/green lane” system that would determine goods’ customs and tariff treatment.
It also called for a dual regulatory regime that would allow NI businesses a choice between UK and/or EU rules.
The EU responded to this by launching legal proceedings. Meanwhile, the UK Government will still need to pass this legislation through the UK Parliament.
- In December 2021, the EU Commission presented proposals to ensure the continued supply of medicines to Northern Ireland from Great Britain as long as they do not enter the Single Market. These changes were fully ratified in April 2022.
- Whilst the Protocol has been effective since 1 January 2021, in September 2021, the UK government announced a “standstill” to facilitate ongoing discussions with the EU on the operation of the Protocol. As part of this announcement it was confirmed that grace periods and easements in respect of medicines, “SPS” controls, and parcels will continue to be applied by the UK government while the discussions proceed.
- Qualifying goods travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain will have unfettered access, without export or exit summary declarations (limited exceptions apply).
- From 1 January 2022, goods moving from the island of Ireland to Great Britain, including those moving from Northern Ireland via ports in the Republic of Ireland, will have no new customs requirements or SPS processes.