European Affairs Committee
Report from the Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland: Introductory report

2nd Report of Session 2021-22 - published 29 July 2021 - HL Paper 55



Chapter 1: The Protocol Sub-Committee


The proposal for a Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

The remit of the Protocol Sub-Committee

(a) Document-based scrutiny of new or amended EU legislation within the scope of the Protocol

(b) Scrutiny of the implications of relevant domestic UK legislation and policy for Northern Ireland

(c) Scrutiny of the Northern Ireland-related work of the
governance bodies established under the UK–EU Withdrawal Agreement, including the Joint Committee, the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee, and the Joint Consultative Working Group

(d) Monitoring the Protocol’s political and socio-economic impact on Northern Ireland

(e) Reviewing the ongoing impact of the Protocol (and of UK withdrawal from the EU more broadly) on the UK–Irish bilateral relationship

(f) Developing interparliamentary dialogue in relation to the Protocol, including with the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Irish Oireachtas

This report

Chapter 2: The development of the Protocol and the current position

The genesis of the Protocol

The Northern Ireland backstop—a UK-wide solution

The revised Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland—checks and controls in the Irish Sea

Developments since 1 January 2021


Lack of transparency

Lack of readiness

Lack of balance and understanding

Lack of flexibility

Lack of trust


Chapter 3: The economic impact of the Protocol

Initial disruption

Trade flows

Table 1: Northern Ireland trade statistics (2018)

Business costs

Case studies

The sectoral impact


Medicines and medical supplies

The motor industry

The impact on businesses in Great Britain

Lack of preparedness

Risk of withdrawal from the Northern Ireland market

The impact on EU-based businesses

The impact on consumers

The impact of the end of the grace periods

Economic benefits

Northern Ireland access to the UK and EU markets

North-South trade

Foreign direct investment

The long-term impact and the need for stability


Chapter 4: The political and social impact of the Protocol

Political instability in Northern Ireland

Community unrest

The impact on identity

Perceptions of UK Government lack of transparency

The perceived use of Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip

Support for the Protocol

The impact on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement

A democratic deficit

Engagement with Northern Ireland communities and civic society


Chapter 5: Mitigations and solutions



Implementation of the UK Government’s commitments

Mitigating measures


The definition of goods ‘at risk’, Supplementary Declarations and the UK Trader Scheme

A UK-EU veterinary agreement

Dialogue in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee


Maximising Northern Ireland’s influence

Within the UK

With the EU

The role of the Northern Ireland Executive

The intergovernmental institutions established under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement

Box 1: The role of the intergovernmental mechanisms established under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in relation to the EU

The role of the Irish Government


Unilateral action and Article 16

Box 2: Article 16 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

The Commission’s abortive announcement of 29 January 2021

Unilateral action by the UK Government


Alternatives to the Protocol


Chapter 6: Conclusion

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and declarations of interest

Appendix 2: List of witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

Evidence is published online at and available for inspection at the Parliamentary Archives (020 7219 3074).

Q in footnotes refers to a question in oral evidence.

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