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Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs on the UK Government Paper on the Protocol

"We note the publication of the UK Government paper on the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. We will analyse this paper closely, together with our EU colleagues.

The Protocol is the agreed solution between the UK and the EU to the problems caused by Brexit for the island of Ireland. The Protocol safeguards the Good Friday Agreement, avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, and protects the Single Market, and Ireland’s place in it.

The Protocol was jointly agreed by this UK Government and the European Union. It is jointly owned by them, and must be jointly implemented by them.

We will continue to encourage the UK to work in partnership with the EU to identify realistic solutions in a spirit of positive and constructive engagement.

The EU has consistently said it is ready to find flexible, practical approaches to address the difficulties citizens in Northern Ireland are experiencing as regards the implementation of the Protocol.

However, any solutions must take place within the framework of the Protocol and the principles that underpin it.

We must also bear in mind the significant opportunities the Protocol presents for business and employment in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is the only place in the world whose goods have free and full access to both the EU single market and the rest of the UK internal market.

Surveys show that two-thirds of NI businesses see the opportunity in this – and we are seeing historically high FDI interest in the North. We need to use the Protocol to deliver on a prosperity agenda for the people of Northern Ireland. Realising these opportunities, as our economies build back from the impact of Covid, should be the focus of our energy at this time."


Press Office 

21 July 2021


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