Eastwood: Protocol proposals are an accommodation that should be embraced

Derry MP Colum Eastwood says that proposals outlined by European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič aimed at resolving the challenges associated with the operation of the Protocol should be embraced by local political leaders.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 7:25 pm
Colum Eastwood

This afternoon Mr. Šefčovič announced a raft of changes to the Protocol that will massively reduce checks on goods travelling from Britain into the north, ensure uninterrupted security of supply of medicines from Britain into the north and ratchet up engagement with the authorities, civic society and businesses in the Six Counties.

In response Mr. Eastwood called on political unionism to 'detach itself from unreachable demands set by Brexiteers in London'.

He said: “The proposals presented by the European Commission today are significant, they go further than many expected and clearly demonstrate that European leaders are stretching themselves in the interests of people and businesses in Northern Ireland. I welcome the proposals made by Maroš Šefčovič because they show that he has been listening to the concerns of people in the North, not the fantasy red lines drawn by the British Government.

“I would encourage political leaders, and particularly the leaders of unionism, to reflect on the very serious efforts made by the European Commission to ease the challenges with trade flows between Northern Ireland and Britain as well as addressing their concerns about democratic deficits."

He urged unionists to be pragmatic and to detach themselves from those raising concerns about the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over the operation of the Protocol in the north.

“No one, save perhaps for Jim Allister, has raised the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice as an issue because its remit is so confined to the operation of European Internal Market law that it poses no threat to prosperity here. Jeopardising our access to the European Single Market on the basis of nativist fuelled rhetoric about European courts would be a serious mistake.

“There is now a clear landing zone that will address the protocol challenges, allow us to maximise the opportunities and, most importantly, expend political energy dealing with the crisis in our health service, our crumbling schools estate and managing the pandemic. We need to grasp that opportunity.”