UK publish approach to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol

May 25, 2020

The UK government has published its approach to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol on Wednesday 20 May, as part of meeting in full its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.

The command paper outlines how the protocol can be implemented in a pragmatic manner: one that protects the interests of the people and economy of Northern Ireland, recognises Northern Ireland’s integral place in the United Kingdom and its internal market, provides appropriate protection for the EU Single Market, and respects the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.

The paper also sets out four key commitments that will underpin the UK Government’s approach to implementing the Protocol:

  • Deliver unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to the whole of the UK market
  • Ensure there are no tariffs on goods remaining within the UK customs territory
  • Discharge obligations without the need for any new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland
  • Guarantee that Northern Ireland businesses benefit from the lower tariffs delivered through our new Free Trade Agreements with third countries


As a background to the implementation of the Protocol - The solution for Northern Ireland in the Protocol was designed as a practical way forward to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. The Protocol will only remain in force as long as the people of Northern Ireland want it to. Democratically elected institutions in Northern Ireland will decide whether to extend or end the arrangements in a consent vote that can take place every four years, with the first vote set to take place in 2024