MPs raise concerns over amount of possible EU law in North

Report identifies 29 proposals which it says Northern Ireland will likely have to follow

A committee of UK MPs has outlined "significant concerns" over the amount of EU legislation which could apply to Northern Ireland as a result of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

A report published on Tuesday by the European Scrutiny Committee identified 29 proposals which it said the North either would have to follow or would be likely to have to do so in the next months.

They cover areas including chemical and environmental regulations, product standards, the supply and approval of medicines, the regulation of trade and taxation and duty.

The MPs said this was “untenable” and was “a stark illustration of the damage that the protocol is having on democracy in the UK”.

They said it was "an avenue for the continued applicability of EU law in Northern Ireland that unless repaired, replaced or removed, could develop into a motorway".

Under the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol – the part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement which was agreed by the UK and the EU to avoid a hard Border on the island of Ireland – the North remained part of the EU single market, and must continue to follow EU rules and standards on goods.

Negotiations are ongoing between the EU and UK on outstanding issues relating to the operation of the protocol.

The committee’s analysis was based on a consideration of the European Commission’s 2022 Work Programme, which outlines the EU’s law-making priorities for the coming year.

“These proposals cover multiple policy areas and, in some cases, are not merely technical changes to existing EU legislation but are new or significant revisions of EU law and policy,” the committee said.

The MPs called on the UK government to “carefully consider our analysis and caution that unless meaningful outcomes are secured in talks with the EU on the future of the protocol, its operation will only grow more problematic”.

The committee also considered proposals put forward by the EU last year to ensure the long-term supply of medicines from Britain to Northern Ireland.

It said that under the compromise suggestion there “remained a risk” that after a six-month period new drugs approved in the UK might not be available to people in Northern Ireland if they had not also been approved by the EU.

The MPs also said there was a possibility the proposals could limit the UK’s ability to choose its own rules and regulations on medicines.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times