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Brexit will cost workers £470 a year, study predicts

The Covid-19 pandemic, which struck just after Britain left the European Union in January 2020, has complicated the task of analysing the impact of Brexit…reports Asian Lite News

Britain is becoming a more closed economy due to Brexit, with damaging long-term implications for productivity and wages which will leave the average worker 470 pounds ($577) a year poorer by the end of the decade, a study forecast on Wednesday.

The report was written by London School of Economics associate professor Swati Dhingra – who will join the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee in August – and researchers from the Resolution Foundation think tank.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which struck just after Britain left the European Union in January 2020, has complicated the task of analysing the impact of Brexit.

New post-Brexit trade rules which took effect in January 2021 unexpectedly did not lead to a persistent fall in British trade with the EU, relative to that with the rest of the world, the researchers said.

“Instead, Brexit has had a more diffuse impact by reducing the UK’s competitiveness and openness to trade with a wider range of countries. This will ultimately reduce productivity, and workers’ real wages too,” Resolution Foundation economist Sophie Hale said.

Britain does not face tariffs on goods exports to the EU, but there are greater regulatory barriers.

The net effect of these would lower productivity across the economy by 1.3% by 2030 compared with an unchanged trade relationship – translating to a 1.8% real-terms fall in annual pay of 470 pounds per worker.

These figures do not include any assessment of the impact of changed migration rules.

The impact for some sectors will be much starker. Britain’s small but high profile fishing industry – many of whose members advocated strongly for Brexit – was likely to shrink by 30% due to difficulties exporting its fresh catch to EU customers, the report said.

By contrast, although highly regulated professional services such as finance, insurance and law will find it harder to serve EU clients, their share of the British economy was only likely to drop by 0.3 percentage points to 20.2%.

ALSO READ-Economists sound the alarm over post-Brexit plans

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Economists sound the alarm over post-Brexit plans

It also raised the risk of hurting the real economy as the finance sector sucks in a disproportionate share of talent, they said in an open letter to finance minister Rishi Sunak…reports Asian Lite News

More than 50 economists warned on Monday that Britain’s post-Brexit plans to boost the competitiveness of its huge finance industry risked creating the kind of problems that led to the global financial crisis.

The government, seeking to use its “Brexit freedoms”, announced this month that it would require regulators to help the City of London to remain a global financial centre after the country left the European Union.

The group of 58 economists, including a Nobel Prize winner and former business minister Vince Cable, said making competitiveness an objective could turn regulators into cheerleaders for banks and lead to poor policymaking.

It also raised the risk of hurting the real economy as the finance sector sucks in a disproportionate share of talent, they said in an open letter to finance minister Rishi Sunak.

“The UK instead needs clear regulatory objectives that promote economy-wide productivity, growth and market integrity, and also protect consumers and taxpayers, advance the fight against climate change and tackle dirty money to protect our collective security,” the letter said.

Britain’s financial services minister, John Glen, has said the new competitiveness objective for the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority would be secondary to keeping markets, consumers and companies safe and sound.

Banks have sought more focus on competitiveness than proposed, but the government has faced push-back from the BoE which has warned against a return to the “light touch” era that ended with lenders being bailed out during the financial crisis.

The signatories of the open letter included Cable, a former leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats, Mick McAteer, a former FCA board member, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

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Brexit ≠ Ukraine

European Council President Donald Tusk reacting to PM’s statement equating Ukraine war to Brexit, said PM’s words offend Ukrainians, the British and common sense, reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire, including from his own MPs, after saying Brexit showed that Britons shared the same “instinct” for freedom as Ukrainians.

In a speech to his Conservative Party conference in Blackpool, northern England, Johnson said it was “the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom every time”.

He cited the Brexit referendum in June 2016 as a “famous recent example”.

“When the British people voted for Brexit in such large, large numbers, I don’t believe it was because they were remotely hostile to foreigners. It’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself,” he said.

He also cited the Covid-19 vaccine rollout by the United Kingdom as an example of people’s desire to get their freedoms back.

Reacting to it, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Sunday on Twitter: “Boris, your words offend Ukrainians, the British and common sense.”

Former EU negotiator Guy Verhofstadt called the comments “insane”.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said Johnson was “needlessly creating division”.

“To compare a referendum to women and children fleeing Putin’s bombs is an insult to every Ukrainian,” he added.

The finance minister, Rishi Sunak, said on Sky News on Sunday that he did not consider the two situations comparable.

“Clearly they are not directly analogous and I don’t think the prime minister was saying that they were directly analogous either,” he said.

Russian win would bring age of intimidation’

Johnson said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “turning point for the world,” arguing that a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces would herald “a new age of intimidation.”

Johnson claimed Putin was “terrified” that the example of a free Ukraine would spark a pro-democracy revolution in Russia.

“That is why he is trying so brutally to snuff out the flame of freedom in Ukraine and that’s why it is so vital that he fails,” Johnson said.

“A victorious Putin will not stop in Ukraine. And the end of freedom in Ukraine will mean the extinction of any hope of freedom in Georgia and then Moldova, it will mean the beginning of a new age of intimidation across Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea,” Johnson said.

ALSO READ-Boris draws flak for comparing Ukraine war to Brexit

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Brexit hits London business

Brexit hits British business with ‘increased costs, paperwork and border delays’ … reports LDD Newsdesk

Britain’s post-Brexit plans to have the world’s most effective border by 2025 were described by a House of Commons committee as “a noteworthy ambition” but one that is hard to achieve due to a lack of concrete measures.

In a hard-hitting report, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday said there has been a clear increase in costs, paperwork and border delays for British business since Britain left the European Union (EU), Xinhua news agency reported.

“It has not helped by repeated delays to a new import regime,” the Committee added.

Since the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, when Britain finally left the bloc, the country’s trade volumes have been suppressed by the impact of Covid-19 and wider global pressures, it said.

“The government has ambitious plans to create ‘the most effective border in the world’ by 2025. While this is a noteworthy ambition, it is optimistic, given where things stand today and we are not convinced that it is underpinned by a detailed plan to deliver it,” the report said.

The PAC said if cross-border passenger volumes recover during 2022 as the pandemic subsides, there is potential for disruption at the border with the EU. Cross-Channel volumes have been at a fraction of normal levels because of the pandemic.

It will be exacerbated, warned the committee, by “further checks at ports as part of the EU’s new Entry and Exit system”. This is especially likely at ports like the English port of Dover where EU officials carry out border checks on the British side.

Politician Meg Hillier, Chair of the committee, said: “One of the great promises of Brexit was freeing British businesses to give them the headroom to maximise their productivity and contribution to the economy — even more desperately needed now on the long road to recovery from the pandemic. Yet the only detectable impact so far is increased costs, paperwork and border delays.”

“In our view, there is much more work the government should be doing in the short term to understand and minimise the current burden on those trading with the EU and to have a border in place which is operating effectively without further delays or temporary measures,” Hillier added.

Meanwhile, over half of all firms engaging in importing business from the European Union (EU) to Britain have found the new border controls “challenging”, a new survey has revealed.

 The full customs control, as agreed in Brexit deals, requests that British importers make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK since January 1, 2022, as the once-introduced 175-day cushion period is due, reports Xinhua news agency.

 Some controls, including certificates and physical checks on agri-foods and plant imports, are being postponed till July 1 this year.

  Twenty-two per cent of the involved businesses responded that the controls are “very challenging”, according to the survey by the Institute of Directors.

  Another 36 per cent considered them “quite challenging”, it added.

 Small businesses have been disproportionately hit, according to the survey. Thirty-one per cent of them reported “very challenging”, compared to 12 per cent of medium-sized ones and only 7 per cent of larger ones.

  “Our members have told us these challenges are mainly due to added administration and paperwork, which in many cases means taking on extra costs,” said Emma Rowland, policy advisor at the organisation.

  Smaller businesses “do not have the capacity that larger businesses do to shoulder this burden, both in terms of time and resource”, she said.

  Rowland urged the government to ramp up awareness and resources for small and medium-sized enterprises ahead of additional controls coming later this year.

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Britain to introduce new bill to scrap EU laws two years since Brexit

Although it then left the 27-member bloc’s single market and customs union, it kept many European laws on the books, pledging to change or repeal them individually post-Brexit…reports Asian Lite News

The UK government will introduce new legislation allowing it to change or scrap retained European Union laws, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said to mark two years since Brexit.

The new “Brexit Freedoms Bill”, which was announced on Monday, will make it easier to amend or remove what he called “outdated” EU laws that London has kept on its statute books as a “bridging measure” after leaving the bloc.

It will be part of what the UK leader dubbed a “major cross-government drive to reform, repeal and replace” the European laws retained and cut red tape for businesses.

“The plans we have set out today will further unleash the benefits of Brexit and ensure that businesses can spend more of their money investing, innovating and creating jobs,” Johnson said in a statement.

“Our new Brexit Freedoms Bill will end the special status of EU law in our legal framework and ensure that we can more easily amend or remove outdated EU law in future.”

The move is part of a flurry of announcements expected imminently from the government in key policy areas, as it also grapples with the growing international crisis over Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine.

However, critics have accused Johnson of rushing out half-baked plans and so-called “red meat” policies to shore up support among his own increasingly disgruntled Conservative MPs.

That follows persistent calls for him to resign over claims of lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street and several other recent scandals.

Britain left the EU on January 31, 2020, but continued to abide by most of its rules and regulations until the start of 2021 under the terms of its withdrawal deal.

Although it then left the 27-member bloc’s single market and customs union, it kept many European laws on the books, pledging to change or repeal them individually post-Brexit.

Meanwhile, the government insists it has made “huge strides” outside the EU, striking some trade deals with countries and forging a new independent foreign policy built around a “global Britain” mantra.

But it has also been beset by issues blamed on Brexit, with the increased paperwork needed causing delays and even shortages of products while some industries complain of growing labour shortages.

Meanwhile, special arrangements agreed for Northern Ireland, aiming to avoid a “hard” border on the island of Ireland, have proved highly contentious there and led to increased political instability.

ALSO READ-UK targets significant progress in Brexit talks by February

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UK targets significant progress in Brexit talks by February

Britain hopes to secure significant progress in post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union by February and win the support of pro-British unionists in Northern Ireland opposed to the current arrangements, reports Asian Lite News

Britain hopes to secure significant progress in post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union by February and win the support of pro-British unionists in Northern Ireland opposed to the current arrangements, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

Truss was speaking on Thursday during a visit to Belfast, where she spoke to politicians and business people about their concerns about post-Brexit restrictions on trade between the British region and the rest of the United Kingdom.

“I want to make significant progress by February. That’s important. But it is important that we secure the support of all the communities in Northern Ireland, including the unionist community,” she told journalists.

“I completely understand the frustration people feel and the need for rapid progress and that is why we are in intense negotiations with the EU,” she said.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Thursday said there was a key window between now and the end of February to get a deal.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused the European Union on Wednesday of implementing part of the Brexit agreement covering trade with Northern Ireland in an “insane and pettifogging way”, comments Ireland dismissed as unhelpful.

“The EU is implementing this in an insane and pettifogging way and we need to sort it out,” Johnson told parliament, complaining that the so-called Northern Ireland protocol was stopping some food delivers and other difficulties.

Boris Johnson Brexit Trade Deal Signing. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson signs the post Brexit Trade Deal Signing inside No10 Downing Street, with Sir David Frost and the British Ambassador to the European Union Tim Barrow (Right) . Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the comments were unhelpful as the European Union was bidding to build trust with new lead British negotiator, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who took over last month from David Frost.

Coveney, a key figure in the negotiation of the protocol, told the upper house of the Irish parliament that he welcomed the “constructive atmosphere” of recent talks involving Truss and that he hoped progress could be made in the coming weeks.

UK finance exports struggle

British financial services exports have struggled to recover from the twin hits of COVID-19 and Brexit and are lingering at levels last seen in 2006 when adjusted for inflation, new data showed on Thursday.

Britain exported 14.5 billion pounds ($19.4 billion) of financial services in the third quarter of last year, according to new inflation-adjusted figures from the Office for National Statistics.

While up slightly from 14.1 billion pounds in the second quarter, which had been the lowest reading in 15 years, the data pointed to tough times for exporters of financial services.

Exports of financial services to the European Union totalled 5.1 billion pounds in current prices in the third quarter, just ahead of exports of 4.4 billion pounds to the United States.

In 2019 – when financial services trade with the EU was still unrestricted – quarterly exports to the EU were around 1 billion pounds higher.

“Financial services exports to EU are down around 10% compared to non-EU exports since 2019, but at least part of the fall is probably due to COVID-19 rather than Brexit,” Thomas Sampson, associate professor from the London School of Economics, said about the data on Twitter.

He said the data for services trade overall – excluding travel and tourism hit by the pandemic – suggested Britain’s deal with the EU had reduced flows in the first three quarters of 2021 overall, although mostly because of lower imports.

Financial services, which have been touted by ministers as key to Britain’s post-Brexit future, are the country’s largest single services export.

Other sectors are faring much better. Exports of “other business services” – which include consultancy, outsourcing, legal advice and architecture – had almost recovered to peak levels even adjusting for inflation, at 29.2 billion pounds in the third quarter.

Britain’s financial services exports hit an inflation-adjusted record high of 21.6 billion pounds in the fourth quarter of 2007, shortly before the financial crisis.

The most recent peak, 17.8 billion pounds in the second quarter of 2016, came just before the vote to leave the EU.

Following Brexit, the financial sector has found it harder to trade with the EU, which had been its biggest export customer by a wide margin.

Some banking, insurance and other financial activities undertaken for customers in the EU that had previously been done from London must now be conducted inside the bloc, with taxes paid locally.

Although surveys show London remains in the top two global financial centres with New York, financial sector officials are looking to authorities to help boost the city’s global attraction, given that EU financial centres such as Amsterdam present new competition to London.

“The UK should promote the competitiveness of its financial services industry beyond trade deals, in order for UK financial services exports to thrive,” said Angus Canvin, director of international affairs at UK Finance.

“That means delivering on the government’s regulatory reform agenda, whilst, of course, maintaining high regulatory standards and a sound legal system – essential also to the industry’s success.”

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Signs of disunity prompt concerns about EU solidarity

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen said the ruling called EU foundations into question, “a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order.”…reports Asian Lite News.

Europe has persevered through a year of challenges in 2021, in the wake of Brexit and amid painstaking efforts towards economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the year draws to a close, the unfolding consequences of Brexit, speculations over a Polish exit from the European Union (EU), and the lingering migrant crisis have continued to weigh heavily on EU member states’ sense of cohesion and solidarity.

In one of the most heart-breaking headlines, 27 undocumented migrants died in an English Channel boat accident on November 24 while trying to reach the UK from France. The accident triggered a squabble between the two countries, which blamed each other for the tragedy.

The channel shipwreck further aggravated Anglo-French relations, which had already been strained following London’s signing of the AUKUS pact with the US and Australia in September, and the dispute over licenses for French fishermen to fish in British waters after Brexit.

Another major post-Brexit row concerns the Northern Ireland protocol, a deal agreed by the UK and the EU to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods, Xinhua news agency reported.

But the arrangement has led to checks on goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, creating a barrier to trade within the UK. After six months of unfruitful negotiations, the row will continue in 2022.

Analysts interpret Brexit as a warning sign for European integration, following which new divisions could be created between EU member states, notably between Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries, net-payers and net-recipients from the EU budget, and between member states in the north and south, and east and west.

“The threat of European disintegration following Brexit has reversed the seemingly irreversible course of ‘ever closer union’,” said University of Cambridge PhD candidate, Ugur Tekiner in an article, adding that the EU needs effective leadership to set a clear trajectory for the integration process.

Poland was in the limelight again in October after its top court ruled primacy of national constitution over EU law — a ruling that challenged the supremacy of EU law, considered as a central pillar of European integration.

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen said the ruling called EU foundations into question, “a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order.”

Critics of Poland’s government feared the ruling would push the country further on the way out of the EU, though the government dismissed the idea as “fake news”.

As the absolute majority of Poland’s citizens strongly support its EU membership, only a few believe that the country, the largest beneficiary of EU funding, is leaving it.

The Polish government, led by the conservative Law and Justice party, has been in conflict with EU officials since it took power in 2015. The dispute is mainly over changes to the Polish judicial system, which give the ruling party more power over the courts.

Polish authorities say they aim to reform what they describe as a corrupt and inefficient justice system, whereas the European Commission believes such changes erode the country’s democratic system of checks and balances and is holding up billions of euros to Poland earmarked in a pandemic recovery plan.

The Commission announced last week that it was taking legal action against Poland for violating EU law and compromising judicial independence of Polish judges, prompting a rebuke from Warsaw.

Meanwhile, a month-long standoff at the border between Poland and Belarus lasted from summer into winter. The border crisis escalated in November, when large groups of migrants tried to cross from Belarus into the EU, raising the specter of a humanitarian emergency.

The EU blamed Belarus for sending migrants over the border as retaliation for EU sanctions, whereas Minsk denied the accusation.

The European Commission put forward a set of temporary asylum and return measures to assist Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, three EU members bordering Belarus, in addressing the emergency. According to the proposal, migrants could be held in closed camps at the border for up to four months and faster deportations will explicitly be authorized.

The move, however, came under immediate criticism from some members of the European Parliament and rights groups, who said the new approach was unacceptable and “putting politics over people’s lives,” especially at a time when Belarus had already evacuated the main camps at its border with Poland and expatriated hundreds of asylum seekers.

The EU’s — and its individual member states’ — approach to migration has created what appears to be a permanent crisis of solidarity. This is a heated and increasingly divisive issue within the bloc and even within the member states, prompting the EU to tackle the crisis from its root.

The European Commission has proposed to make 2022 the European Year of Youth, hoping the younger generation will strengthen European solidarity and build a better future — a mission already taken by some.

Since the age of 18, British humanitarian aid worker, Mary Finn has been involved in sea rescue operations for migrants off the coasts of Greece, Turkey and Libya. Now at 24, she bears witness to the situation of refugees in Europe and its consequences on European politics.

“We are not alone, there is a generation of young people who are not willing to stand by and watch humanity and our planet fall apart,” she said in an Instagram posting after the premiere of a documentary on the experience of herself and her peers at Cannes Film Festival in July.

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Truss becomes chief negotiator in post-Brexit talks

He expressed discontent over the stricter measures recently introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic…reports Asian Lite News.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will become lead negotiator with the European Union (EU) on the Northern Ireland Protocol, following the departure of Brexit minister David Frost, Downing Street has said.

Truss, while retaining her role as foreign secretary, will take over ministerial responsibility for UK’s relationship with the EU with immediate effect, it said.

In his resignation on Saturday, Frost said he’s concerned about “the current direction of travel” of the government.

He expressed discontent over the stricter measures recently introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“You took a brave decision in July, against considerable opposition, to open up the country again. Sadly, it did not prove to be irreversible,” Frost said.

Frost led the negotiations over the main Brexit deal with Brussels, but more recently had attempted to find a solution to the question of the border between Northern Ireland and the neighboring Republic of Ireland.

As part of Britain’s departure from the EU, a protocol was agreed which meant goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could continue to be sent seamlessly across the border which is now the only EU frontier within the British Isles.

Instead, a border was created down the middle of the Irish Sea, which has been heavily criticised by businesses saying it has made it more difficult to send goods to Northern Ireland from the British mainland.

Truss will now lead the ongoing negotiations to resolve the problems arising from the current operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, an issue that so far has proved difficult to resolve in both London and Brussels.

A leading UK’s daily commented that Truss’s appointment will be seen as a steadying move after Frost’s resignation dealt a body blow to an already weakened prime minister, reeling from sleaze scandals and the loss of the by-election in North Shropshire on Friday.

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EU proposes solution to ensure medicine supply to NI

The European Commission’s proposals still need to be sent to the European Parliament and the Council for examination and endorsement, reports Asian Lite News

The European Commission put forward proposals to ensure timely supply of medicines to Northern Ireland (NI) from the rest of the UK, announced officials.

“The Commission is today proposing a bespoke arrangement for the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland. It means that everyone in Northern Ireland will have access to the same medicines at the same time as elsewhere in the UK, while ensuring that the integrity of the EU Single Market is protected,” said Maros Sefcovic, Vice-president of the European Commission and co-chair of the EU-UK Joint Committee and Partnership Council.

Not only generic medicines, such as paracetamol, but also life-saving medicines such as cancer treatment, are included, Xinhua news agency quoted Sefcovic as saying at a press conference.

In line with the proposals, if a new medicine has been authorised in the UK, but not yet in the EU, it will be temporarily supplied to patients in Northern Ireland pending authorisation in the EU, European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides told the same press conference.

Those temporary authorizations should be time-limited and end as soon as the Commission has granted the authorisation to market the medicine, she added.

The European Commission’s proposals still need to be sent to the European Parliament and the Council for examination and endorsement.

The UK’s departure from the EU, also called Brexit, led to a complicated situation on the Island of Ireland. To avoid a hard border on the island, the UK’s Northern Ireland was integrated into the EU Single Market, under the Protocol of Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Goods leaving Great Britain to enter Northern Ireland, including medicine, are subjected to the EU Single Market’s custom duties and inspections, creating delays and effectively cutting out supplies in Northern Ireland.

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UK made ‘limited progress’ with EU on medicine supply to NI

David Frost said he and Maros Sefcovic will talk twice to steer the process, in the hope of making worthwhile progress towards agreed solutions before Christmas, reports Asian Lite News

British Brexit Minister David Frost said that the UK and the European Union (EU) have made limited progress on the post-Brexit supply of medicines to Northern Ireland.

Frost had a video call with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic on Friday to wrap up this week’s talks about the Northern Ireland Protocol, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We have made further limited progress on medicines but we have not reached agreement,” Frost tweeted after the meeting.

“I underlined the need for movement on all the difficult issues created by the (Northern Ireland) Protocol, including customs, agrifood rules, subsidy policy, VAT/excise, & governance including the Court of Justice,” he added.

He confirmed intensive talks will continue in the coming week.

Frost said he and Sefcovic will talk twice to steer the process, in the hope of making worthwhile progress towards agreed solutions before Christmas.

As part of the Brexit deal, the Northern Ireland Protocol stipulates that Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market and customs union to avoid a hard border between the region and the Republic of Ireland.

However, this leads to a new “regulatory” border between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Britain and the EU view changing the protocol as a long-term solution to post-Brexit trade disruption in Northern Ireland.

Britain outlined its proposals in a government paper in July, which observers interpreted as an intention to renegotiate the protocol.

In response, the EU published its own package to facilitate the movement of goods from Britain to Northern Ireland, including cutting customs formalities, simplified certification, and an 80 per cent reduction of checks on retail goods for Northern Ireland’s consumers.

It said it would guarantee an uninterrupted supply of medicine to the people of Northern Ireland, by changing EU rules.

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