Northern Ireland Protocol

The Northern Ireland Protocol is the protocol set out by the European Union to change the Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. It came into force in the beginning of 2021. The protocol has created disruptions between UK and the EU since its implementation.

Key Facts for UPSC Examination

  • The issue is around opening the borders of Northern Ireland.
  • The Northern Ireland Protocol aims to solve the border issue among Ireland, UK, Northern Ireland and European Union.
  • Before Brexit, Ireland, Northern Ireland and UK were part of EU. But after Brexit, the Northern Ireland is with UK and Ireland is with EU.

Ireland and Northern Ireland

After the Irish War of Independence, in 1922, most of the Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom to become an independent state. However, the northern Ireland remained with the United Kingdom.


In 1998, the Northern Peace Deal (also called the Good Friday Agreement) was signed. Under the agreement, the land borders of Northern Ireland are to be kept open. This was done to avoid construction of new infrastructure such as border posts and cameras. Also, to prevent the time delays in the movement of goods. With this, the British and EU goods can movely freely in Northern Ireland.

What is the issue?

In those times, UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland were part of EU and thus they shared the same EU rules. No checks were required on goods travelling between them. After Brexit, the Northern Ireland is part of the UK. On the other hand, Republic of Ireland is with European Union. Post Brexit, the same old issue of border that was solved by the Good Friday Agreement is re-emerging.

What is Northern Ireland Protocol?

The protocol aims to solve the border issue. According to the protocol, the Northern Ireland is to be left half under European system and half under British system. That is, mainly the check on goods entering Northern Ireland.

Concerns of Northern Ireland Protocol

It demands for more checks on goods (from Britain) entering Northern Ireland. This will create a border in Irish sea and will divide UK.

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