The NI Protocol & the Environment: The implications for Northern Ireland, Ireland and the UK

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The Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland attached to the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (hereafter, the Protocol) is redrawing relations on, and within, these Islands. It has wide ranging implications for both policy and governance across a wide range of sectors. While some of the effects of the Protocol are already highly visible (as disruption to GB/NI trade flows show) in other areas it may take months, if not years, for the effects of the Protocol to be felt. This delayed impact is compounded by the dynamic nature of the arrangement: for example the UK and EU meeting in the Joint Committee created by the Withdrawal Agreement can add legislation to the list of EU laws (in particular under Annex II of the Protocol) that will continue to apply to Northern Ireland. Moreover, under the mechanism for democractic consent (Article 18), the Northern Ireland Assembly will have to vote in 2024 on the continuation of Articles 5 to 10 of the Protocol.
This brief discusses what the Protocol means for the environment – in Northern Ireland, as well as in Great Britain and across the island of Ireland. It Introduces the ‘new normal’ for the environment after Brexit framed by the implementation of the Protocol and, the new UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and domestic UK legislation. It then explains how these new rules impact the environment, both in terms of policy and governance. As the new arrangements are dynamic and liable to change, the brief concludes by discussing case studies, highlighting opportunities and challenges for pursuing environmental action under the Protocol.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBrexit and Environment
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021


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