EU exit and the Northern Ireland Protocol
The UK left the European Union (EU) on the 31 January 2020. A transition period was in place until 31 December 2020 and now a new relationship with the EU is beginning. This includes the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The NI Protocol
During negotiations the EU and UK agreed a Northern Ireland Protocol that there would be no new checks on goods crossing the border between NI and the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
The protocol aims to:
- avoid a hard border between NI and the ROI
- make sure of the integrity of the EU’s single market for goods
- facilitate unfettered access for NI goods to the GB market, and the inclusion of NI goods in free trade agreements between the UK and third countries
As a result of the protocol, NI has in effect remained in the EU's single market for goods (England, Scotland and Wales have left the EU's single market for goods).
This allows goods to flow to and from NI to the ROI and the rest of the EU as they did while the UK was a member of the EU, without customs checks, tariffs or new paperwork.
The EU's rules on customs and regulation of agri-food products will continue to apply to goods arriving in NI.
More information from the UK government on the NI Protocol is available at these links:
The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement
The UK government and EU agreed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement on 24 December 2020.
More information from the UK government is available at this link: