Potential progress in terms of proposed trade channels under the Northern Ireland Protocol could be on the cards as a meeting of MEPs in Brussels gets underway this evening (Tuesday, February 7).

The “mood music” in terms of ongoing discussions between the European Union (EU) and the UK on the implementation of the protocol is “getting more positive by the day” MEP Seán Kelly told Agriland.

He expects that MEPs will get a further update this evening on what potential progress has been made in relation to the UK’s green and red lanes proposals and also hear whether an “agreement or close to an agreement” has been reached.

Under the UK’s proposed approach, goods staying in the UK would be transported via the green lane without unnecessary paperwork, checks and duties.

Goods going to the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and the rest of the EU, via the red lane, would be subject to full checks and controls and full customs procedures to protect the EU Single Market.

Northern Ireland Protocol

Commenting on the progress of protocol talks and the proposed green and red lane approach, the MEP for Ireland south said:

“I think it [progress] is based on agreements reached two weeks ago where the UK finally agreed to share its customs data with the EU, which makes this whole process of the red and green lanes possible.

“And I think that will get rid off an awful lot of the problems related to goods going from GB to NI and that would be a very, very positive breakthrough.

“Which would probably mean that the UK will probably drop the protocol bill and then we could talk about getting back to a good working relationship with the EU-UK.”

Trade Food kelly animal transport
MEP for Ireland south Seán Kelly

The MEP previously said that following the agreement on the sharing of customs data related to goods traveling from GB to NI, the EU may grant greater flexibilities in the implementation of the protocol.

He said that based on access to UK customs databases, the EU can make facts-based assessment on the risk of goods being smuggled into the Single Market via Northern Ireland.

In a press conference, EU negotiator and vice president of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic said that “difficulties remain” despite progress and a “positive atmosphere”.

Sefcovic said that access to the UK databases would allow the EU to dramatically improve the flow of information needed to protect the integrity of the EU Single Market.

Work to find a possible joint solution, including on a tariff rate and quota, VAT and data use to make the protocol acceptable to all numerous stakeholders continues, he said.