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

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

The genesis of the Protocol

24.On 19 October 2019 the Government laid before Parliament the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and from the European Atomic Energy Community11 (hereafter referred to as the Withdrawal Agreement). Within it was a revised Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

25.The genesis of the Protocol was complex. In summer 2017, at the outset of the withdrawal negotiations, the UK and the EU agreed first to address three specific areas: the protection of citizens’ rights after Brexit, the financial settlement, and issues relating to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. They also agreed that “sufficient progress” would be needed on these withdrawal issues before discussions could begin on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship.

26.On 8 December 2017 the EU and the UK published a Joint Report on progress during phase 1 of the negotiations, including a dedicated section on Ireland and Northern Ireland. The report was published in the wake of several days of intensive dialogue between the then Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) (who were the Government’s confidence and supply partners at the time), in view of the DUP’s concerns over the Report. It stated, among other things, that both parties would respect the provisions of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and avoid the creation of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, “including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls”. It stated that the UK’s intention was to:

“achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement. In the absence of agreed solutions … the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.”12

27.In parallel, the Prime Minister made six “principled commitments” to Northern Ireland:

The Northern Ireland backstop—a UK-wide solution

28.In February 2018, the Commission published a draft Withdrawal Agreement, which proposed a “common regulatory area comprising the [European] Union and the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland. The common regulatory area shall constitute an area without internal borders in which the free movement of goods is ensured and north-south cooperation protected”.14 However, the Government stated that it would not agree to “anything that threatens the constitutional integrity of the UK”.15

29.A period of intensive negotiations followed, which ultimately led to the negotiation of what became known as the ‘Northern Ireland backstop’, which was attached as a Protocol to the November 2018 version of the Withdrawal Agreement.16 This original Protocol stated that the Union Customs Code and relevant regulatory and technical obligations deriving from EU law would apply “to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland”. It would also have ensured that the UK and the EU temporarily remained part of a single customs territory, until such time as a UK-EU future relationship achieving the same objectives, such as avoiding a hard border, came into force. On four occasions the House of Commons voted against the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, leading to the announcement in May 2019 of the resignation of the then Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Theresa May MP.

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

30.On 19 August 2019 the new Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Boris Johnson MP, sent a letter to the then President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, indicating his wish to renegotiate elements of the Withdrawal Agreement. He confirmed that the changes sought by the Government related primarily to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

31.On 2 October, the Government published an Explanatory Note on the UK proposals for an amended Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The Government proposed a “zone of regulatory compliance across Northern Ireland and the EU” which would “remove the need for regulatory checks and related infrastructure at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, while enabling the UK and EU to maintain their own distinct customs regimes”. This would involve:

“regulatory checks applying between Great Britain and Northern Ireland … supplemented by on-the-market surveillance, as it is now. … Northern Ireland would align with EU SPS rules, including those relating to the placing on the market of agri-food goods. Agri-food goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain would do so via a Border Inspection Post of Designated Point of Entry as required by EU law … They would be subject to identity and documentary checks and physical examination by UK authorities as required by the relevant EU rules. In addition, Northern Ireland would also align with all relevant EU rules relating to the placing on the market of manufactured goods … ensuring that regulatory checks can be implemented at the boundary of the zone, as appropriate and in line with relevant EU law, minimising the potential for non-compliance.”17

32.The Government proposed to “make this regulatory zone dependent on the consent of those who live under it”, through “an opportunity for democratic consent to these arrangements in the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, within the framework set by the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. If consent is withheld, the arrangements will not enter into force or will lapse (as the case may be) after one year, and arrangements will default to existing rules.”

33.On 17 October 2019 the new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland that had been negotiated and agreed by the UK and the EU was published. There were two significant changes from the previous iteration:

34.The Government explained the changes as follows:

“The new Protocol abolishes the backstop entirely. Instead of the United Kingdom remaining in a customs union with the EU with no means to exit unless and until future arrangements were agreed, the new arrangements ensure that the whole of the United Kingdom will be a single customs territory with control of its independent trade policy, including as regards Northern Ireland. It replaces other backstop provisions with a system whereby Northern Ireland remains aligned with the EU on goods (including certain laws for VAT on goods), and applies EU tariffs in Northern Ireland except for movements within the single customs territory of the United Kingdom, but only for as long as Northern Ireland wishes this system to continue.”19

35.Following the December 2019 general election, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, giving effect to the revised Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol agreed by the UK and EU, was introduced, receiving Royal Assent on 23 January 2020. The UK withdrew from the European Union on 31 January 2020, and the Protocol was scheduled to come into force at the same moment as the post-withdrawal transition period expired, at midnight CET (11:00pm GMT) on the night of 31 December 2020/1 January 2021.

36.Ahead of the expiry of the transition period, dialogue continued between the UK and the EU on the implementation and operation of the Protocol. On 30 April 2020, the Commission published a technical note on the implementation of the Protocol, calling on the UK to clarify the steps it intended to take to ensure the Protocol was operational, and its timetable for doing so.20 The Government responded on 20 May with a Command Paper entitled The UK’s Approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol. While the Command Paper shed helpful light on some areas, it lacked detail on the practical steps required to implement the Protocol.21

37.In September 2020, the Government brought forward the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. Part 5 of the Bill sought to address the Government’s concern that a rigid interpretation of the Protocol, by creating barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, could undermine the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The Bill sought to override the Protocol’s provisions in relation to export declarations and the application of State aid rules, and the Government suggested that further measures in relation to movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland might be contained in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

38.On 8 September, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, told the House of Commons that the Bill “break[s] international law in a very specific and limited way”.22 This led on 16 September to the resignation of Lord Keen of Elie as Advocate General for Scotland and Justice Minister. Lord Keen had told the House of Lords that the bill did not “constitute a breach of international law or the rule of law”.23 On 1 October, the Commission sent the UK a letter of formal notice for breaching its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement, on the grounds that Part 5 of the Bill would “flagrantly violate” the Protocol.24

39.UK-EU dialogue continued in parallel with the parliamentary progress of the Bill during the autumn of 2020. This led to the publication on 8 December 2020 of a Joint Statement by the co-chairs of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee on the implementation and operation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. This was followed on 10 December by the publication of a Command Paper on the Protocol, together with a series of draft UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement Joint Decisions on agricultural subsidies; the determination of goods not at risk and commercial processing; amendments to the Protocol to correct omissions or other deficiencies; and on the practical working arrangements relating to the exercise of the rights of EU representatives in overseeing the Protocol’s operation.

40.These were complemented by a series of UK and EU unilateral declarations in the Joint Committee, including the agreement of a one-year grace period for the supply of medicinal products; a six month grace period for the import of “certain meat products” into Northern Ireland from Great Britain; a three-month grace period on the certification for certain food products brought into Northern Ireland; arrangements regarding the application of Union law with regard to export declarations for goods moving from Northern Ireland to other parts of the UK; and the application of the State aid provisions of the Protocol.

41.These Decisions and unilateral declarations were subsequently confirmed at the meeting of the Joint Committee on 17 December. In parallel, the Government accepted the removal of the relevant clauses of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, and did not bring forward any further relevant measures in the Finance Bill. The EU did not pursue legal proceedings further.

42.These agreements were then supplemented by a further grace period on the movement of parcels, which was announced on 31 December, just hours before the Protocol came into force.

Developments since 1 January 2021

43.The Protocol, subject to these grace periods and mitigations, came into force on the night of 31 December 2020/1 January 2021. Reports quickly emerged of disruption to supermarket supply chains, leading to calls by some for the UK Government to invoke the safeguarding mechanism set out in Article 16 of the Protocol (see Chapter 5, Box 2).

44.On 29 January, in response to the EU’s difficulties in accessing supplies of COVID-19 vaccine, the Commission announced its intention to invoke Article 16 in the context of its Implementing Regulation on COVID vaccine provision.25 Following strong protests from the UK and Irish Governments, the Commission reversed its position later the same day, before the Implementing Regulation had come into effect. However, its abortive action added to unrest in Northern Ireland and contributed to growing calls within the unionist and loyalist community for the Protocol to be scrapped.

45.On 2 February, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and then UK co-chair of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, wrote to his EU counterpart, Commission Vice-President Šefčovič, protesting at the Commission’s action, and requesting the extension of the various grace periods until 1 January 2023, and other mitigating steps.26

46.On 3 February, Mr Gove and Vice-President Šefčovič made a joint statement setting out their “full commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and to the proper implementation of the Protocol”.27 However, in his 10 February reply to Mr Gove’s letter, Vice-President Šefčovič wrote that “blanket derogations from provisions of Union law made applicable in respect of Northern Ireland cannot be agreed beyond what the Protocol foresees already”, and that “any flexibility would entail the United Kingdom committing to align with the relevant EU rules”.28

47.On 1 March Lord Frost was appointed as Minister of State at the Cabinet Office and as a full member of Cabinet. Lord Frost assumed from Mr Gove ministerial responsibility for oversight of the implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol, and for acting as UK co-chair of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee and TCA Partnership Council.

48.On 3 March and in subsequent guidance published over the following days, the Government announced “temporary operational steps to avoid disruptive cliff edges … as part of the pragmatic and proportionate implementation” of the Protocol. These included extending the grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers from 1 April until 1 October 2021, and phased introduction of certification requirements; mitigating guidance on movements of parcels, plants, seeds, bulbs, vegetables and agricultural machinery from Great Britain to Northern Ireland; and a statement that flexibilities in relevant regulations mean that “no charging regime is required for agri-food goods”.

49.On 15 March the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the UK for breaking the substantive provisions of the Protocol and the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement, marking the beginning of a second formal infringement process against the UK.29 The same day, Vice-President Šefčovič wrote to Lord Frost citing “insufficient progress towards compliance on the ground” in implementing the Protocol and the Joint Committee’s Decisions of December 2020.30

50.In parallel, the Northern Ireland Executive Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) issued guidance stating that there would be no checks on persons travelling with pets from Great Britain to Northern Ireland until at least 1 July 2021. On 1 June DAERA further extended this period until 1 October 2021.

51.In late March and early April, community disturbances erupted in various parts of Northern Ireland, including Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, and Carrickfergus, Ballymena and Newtownabbey in County Antrim. Tensions over the Protocol were cited as one of the contributory causes of the violence, and there were several street protests against the Protocol. Protests against the Protocol have continued to take place in various locations in the period since.

52.This took place against the backdrop of party political instability in Northern Ireland. In April 2021 Rt Hon Arlene Foster MLA announced her impending resignation as First Minister of Northern Ireland. She was succeeded in May as DUP Leader by Edwin Poots MLA, and then in June as First Minister by Paul Givan MLA. Also in May, Doug Beattie MLA replaced Steve Aiken MLA as Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Mr Poots then resigned as DUP leader within hours of Mr Givan’s appointment as First Minister, on 17 June, and was replaced by Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP.

53.In the meantime, technical discussions continued in the Joint Committee and the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee, with a view to defining and identifying solutions to the outstanding matters of concern in relation to the operation of the Protocol. The Joint Committee met most recently on 9 June. The UK and the EU published separate statements after the meeting, identifying progress in some areas but not in others.31

54.On 17 June the Government requested the extension of the grace period on chilled meats from the end of June until the end of September. At his appearance before the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Executive Office on 28 June, Commission Vice-President Šefčovič indicated that the EU was likely to agree to the extension.32 On 30 June the EU agreed to the extension, subject to accompanying official health certificates, products being sold exclusively to end consumers in Northern Ireland supermarkets, and packaging and labelling requirements. Alongside this, the EU announced that it had identified solutions in relation to the movement of medicines, guide dogs and the re-tagging of animals.33 The UK in turn agreed not to amend the rules applicable to meat products already in force in the rest of the UK.34

55.On 21 July, the same day as this report was agreed, the Government published its Command Paper Northern Ireland Protocol: the way forward.35 We will set out our analysis of the Government’s proposals, and the EU’s response, in the autumn.


56.When our witnesses reflected on this chronology of events, they identified five interlocking problems or failures by the UK Government or the EU, or both:

Lack of transparency

57.Jonathan Powell, former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Tony Blair (1995–2007) and Chief British Negotiator on Northern Ireland (1997–2007), said that while the Prime Minister accepted a border in the Irish Sea in 2019 to get a deal, he had failed to acknowledge or explain the implications of this decision: “He said it was not a border in the Irish Sea … A lot of people believed what Boris Johnson had said”.36 Professor Katy Hayward, Professor of Political Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, cited “several examples of what was publicly stated by Government Ministers about what the Protocol meant and the implications of it and what they were prepared to do for Northern Ireland and those statements being disproved by actions later, which … only go to increase people’s sense of betrayal”.37

58.The Centre for Cross Border Studies observed “a failure to take responsibility for political choices made and to be honest with citizens in regards to the consequences of those choices, therefore making it more difficult to arrive at realistic solutions”.38

59.The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) argued:

“The political impact of the Protocol is impossible to separate from the broader impact of Brexit. … The UK’s decision to leave not just the European Union, but its Customs Union and Single Market, presented a fundamental challenge to the architecture of Northern Ireland’s settlement. … It is to our immense frustration that we and others have been left to take responsibility for explaining and implementing an agreement Boris Johnson and his Government negotiated while they have sought to deny, disown and destabilise—and refuse to take responsibility.”39

Lack of readiness

60.Professor David Phinnemore, Professor Katy Hayward, Dr Billy Melo Araujo and Lisa Whitten, Queen’s University Belfast, argued that the initial preparations for the implementation of the Protocol in the first half of 2020 were undermined by the Government’s querying of its responsibilities under the Protocol. This led to delays in securing agreements on key implementation questions.40

61.The Ulster Unionist Party said that the last-minute nature of the TCA made a difficult situation even worse for Northern Ireland, given that there were so many outstanding questions about how the Protocol would work, and even though businesses in Northern Ireland did their best to prepare:

“The Government didn’t seem to understand what they had agreed with the EU, with the Secretary of State for NI even denying the existence of a trade border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland despite all evidence to the contrary … There is very little, if any, confidence that the UK Government have any detailed understanding of the full implications of the Protocol, in particular the almost daily emergence of new regulations.”41

62.Dr Tom Kelly, Columnist, Irish News, said that “from a communications point of view, this has been a disaster”:

“With the emphasis to try to get a deal done by the 31st [December], the reality is that nothing had been thought out. There was no communication plan to roll out to people … The Protocol is ostensibly about trade, but it was going to have a wider impact on people’s perception of their identity. That should have been spelled out to people. The intervening time that we have spent should not have been wasted in grandstanding but should have been used to communicate with constituencies.”42

Lack of balance and understanding

63.Several witnesses argued that, with its focus on North-South relations and avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, the Protocol itself fails adequately to recognise the equally legitimate political importance of East-West relations (and the greater economic significance of trade relations with Great Britain), and the delicate balance between them as encapsulated in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

64.The Ulster Unionist Party brought out this point:

“If [the UK and EU] had been serious about protecting the Belfast Agreement, they would have placed equal importance on east-west relationships and the genuine and legitimate concerns of unionists. Those were recognised within the Belfast Agreement, but were cast aside by the EU, UK and Irish Governments in the negotiations that led to the Protocol.”43

Lack of flexibility

65.Our witnesses argued that the EU’s overriding desire to protect the integrity of the EU Single Market led to an unnecessarily rigid approach, which was wholly unsuited to the sensitivities and compromises of politics in Northern Ireland. Former Northern Ireland Office senior official Mary Madden referred to the EU’s focus on “rules and rules and rules”, and a lack of understanding of the impact of trading arrangements on issues of identity.44

66.In a similar assessment, Ian Marshall, Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast (and former Irish Senator), wrote that the EU’s legal-purist nature was incompatible with the need for “flexibility and pragmatism” in Northern Ireland.45

Lack of trust

67.These factors have contributed to a growing lack of trust between the UK and the EU. The SDLP argued:

“Having lauded the Withdrawal Agreement when it was concluded in late 2019, and spent most of 2020 denying that it would involve significant disruption, UK Government policy—insofar as a coherent policy is discernible—appears to be to disown the Protocol gradually, casting doubt on its workability, taking unilateral action and occasionally threatening invocation of Article 16. Firstly, it is not credible for UK Ministers to claim that they did not realise [what] the impacts of the Protocol that they negotiated and signed would be. It is unsurprising that the EU expects an international treaty signed in good faith to be upheld and for the UK Government to suggest otherwise is disingenuous. Virtually everything about the UK Government approach since the end of the transition period—but particularly since Lord Frost replaced Michael Gove as lead minister—has been destabilising. They have managed to lose the trust of every major political party and tradition in Northern Ireland, as well as the Irish Government.”46

68.Jonathan Powell said:

“Any agreement depends on trust for its implementation, and unfortunately trust has been really badly undermined by the steps taken, particularly by the British negotiator, David Frost, on this. I feel that what he has done by his unilateral steps and by his rhetoric is to destroy trust with European partners, which means that they are now on their guard. They are much less likely to look for creative ways of solving this problem than they were before.”47

69.The DUP argued:

“Despite cynically positioning itself as a guarantor of the peace process in order to secure support for the Protocol, the triggering of Article 16 in January to prevent vaccines entering Northern Ireland confirmed that the EU is not afraid to erect a hard border if it is in their interests. This has demonstrated that Northern Ireland will never have the assurance of unconditional membership of the EU single market.”48


70.The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland was not created in a vacuum, but rather as a consequence of Brexit. However, the Protocol that emerged was not an inevitable result of Brexit, but rather of the political decisions taken during negotiations both by the UK and the EU on what form it should take. Yet the Government did not make adequately clear to the people of Northern Ireland what the Protocol would mean in practice. Details of its practical operation were provided extremely late in the day, leaving businesses unprepared, in spite of their best efforts. The practical operation of the Protocol since 1 January has therefore come as a shock, contributing to political instability in Northern Ireland and exacerbating underlying community tensions, which could even reverse the progress made under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

71.The EU’s rigid focus on the Protocol as a tool to protect the integrity of the Single Market has failed to account of its impact on the sense of identity of unionists and loyalists, inflaming the situation still further. Thus the delicate balance between North-South and East-West relations encapsulated in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement has been compromised.

72.Both the EU’s rules-based rigidity consequent upon maintaining the integrity of the Single Market and customs union, combined with the Government’s apparent reluctance to accept its obligations under the Protocol, and indeed the consequences of its own policy choices, have led to a mutual lack of trust, hindering the ability to identify and implement solutions. If urgent steps are not taken to restore trust, Northern Ireland is destined to become a casualty of the post-Brexit serious deterioration in relations between the UK and the EU.

11 HM Government, Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, presented to Parliament pursuant to Section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act (No. 2) 2019 and Section 13 of the European Union Withdrawal) Act 2018 (19 October 2019): [accessed 21 July 2021]

12 HM Government and European Commission, Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union (8 December 2017): [accessed 21 July 2021]

13 HC Deb 11 Dec 2017, cols 26–27

14 European Commission, European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (28 February 2018): [accessed 21 July 2021]

15 ‘EU publishes plan to keep Northern Ireland in customs union’, The Guardian (28 February 2018): [accessed 21 July 2021]

16 Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, as endorsed by leaders at a special meeting of the European Council on 25 November 2018 (25 November 2018): [accessed 21 July 2021]

17 HM Government, Explanatory Note: UK Proposals for an amended protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (2 October 2019): [accessed 21 July 2021]

18 Withdrawal Agreement (19 October 2019), New Article 8, on VAT and excise, was also as a consequence expanded from the original iteration.

19 HM Government, Explainer for the new Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol and the Political Declaration on the future relationship (18 October 2019): [accessed 21 July 2021]

20 European Commission, Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom, Technical note on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (30 April 2020): [accessed 21 July 2021]

22 HC Deb, 8 September 2020, cols 497 and 509

23 HL Deb, 15 September 2020, col 1129

24 European Commission, Press Release: Withdrawal Agreement: European Commission sends letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for breach of its obligations (1 October 2020): [accessed 21 July 2021]

25 Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/111 of 29 January 2021 making the exportation of certain products subject to the production of an export authorisation OJ L 31I/1 (31 January 2021)

26 Letter from Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, 2 February 2021: [accessed 21 July 2021]

27 Cabinet Office, Press release: Joint statement from Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Gove and Vice-President Šefčovič (3 February 2021): [accessed 21 July 2021)

28 Letter from Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission to Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 10 February 2021: [accessed 21 July 2021]

29 European Commission, Press release: Withdrawal Agreement: Commission sends letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for breach of its obligations under the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (15 March 2021): [accessed 21 July 2021]

30 Letter from Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission to Lord Frost CMG, Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, 15 March 2021: [accessed 21 July 2021]

31 European Commission, Statement by the European Commission following the eight meeting of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee (9 June 2021): and Cabinet Office, Press Release: UK statement on the meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee (9 June 2021): [accessed 21 July 2021]

32 Northern Ireland Assembly, evidence taken before the Committee for The Executive Office, 28 June 2021: [accessed 21 July 2021]

33 European Commission, Press Release, EU-UK relations: solutions found to help implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (30 June 2021): [accessed 21 July 2021]

38 Written evidence from the Centre for Cross Border Studies (IIO0020)

39 Written evidence from the SDLP (IIO0033)

40 Written evidence from Professor David Phinnemore, Professor Katy Hayward, Dr Billy Melo Araujo and Lisa Whitten (IIO0023)

41 Written evidence from the UUP (IIO0010)

43 Written evidence from the UUP (IIO0010)

45 Written evidence from Ian Marshall (IIO0003)

46 Written evidence from the SDLP (IIO0033)

48 Written evidence from the DUP (IIO0025)

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