Peers have sided with the UK in urging Brussels to abandon its plans of increasing requirements on goods crossing the Irish Sea. They warned the plans would have a devastating impact on businesses exporting goods across the Irish Sea.
The EU is planning to impose even stricter checks on goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland in the months ahead.
Unelected eurocrats say the increased measures are a necessary part of the Northern Ireland Protocol and that the international treaty must be implemented in full.
They add that the stubborn demands by the EU are to blame for talks on solutions to fictions caused by the Protocol grinding to a halt.
A report by the peers founds that Brussels’ proposals for reforms of the Protocol “appear to be based on the assumption that the grace periods will come to an end, amplified by its decision to continue the infringement procedure against the UK in relation to the grace periods begun in March 2021”.
At present, grace periods mean that a number of customs requirements are not fully imposed.
But Britain has warned that the Protocol is already having a damaging impact on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland and this would only get worse if further customs checks were imposed.
Ministers have warned that the EU’s purist approach to checks is undermining the integrity go the United Kingdom.
They say the Good Friday Agreement is being undermined, putting the peace process is at risk because currently Northern Ireland is treated differently to the rest of the union.
Last year the Government submitted plans to Brussels for changes to be made to the Protocol in order to ease concerns and help improve the flow of trade.
The European Commission rejected the proposals at the outset saying the EU would not renegotiate the Protocol.
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Instead, the continent put forward its own plans to alter the way the Protocol was implemented, which it claimed would help reduce the problems facing businesses.
However, their suggestions included the end of the grace periods and a huge increase in bureaucratic red tape.
Criticising the EU’s plans, the House of Lords committee urged both sides to “agree to the permanent continuation of the grace periods and derogations”.
The UK has said it remains open to talks with Brussels on the Protocol but that the EU has stopped engaging.
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Ministers are currently attempting to pass legislation that would give the UK the right to unilaterally suspend Protocol customs checks as a back-up option.
They say the legislation is necessary to ensure the Government can continue to protect the UK.
The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill has been passed in the House of Commons and will now be debated in the Lords.
While today’s new report by peers warns against the EU’s intended actions, it is expected the Lords will try to force changes to the UK’s plan to stand up to Brussels.
Peers have already vowed to table amendments to the legislation.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Our overriding priority is to protect the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions.
“As it stands, the Protocol is undermining this delicate balance of that agreement.
“Our preference remains for a negotiated solution, however, the EU have repeatedly refused to change their mandate so that we can deal with the full range of issues – and their proposals would actually take us backwards from where we are today.”