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Stewart Poses Questions on Article 16 at the Committee for the Economy

The Committee for the Economy met on Wednesday 20th January, and were joined by Professor Katy Hayward, Professor of Political Sociology, and Professor David Phinnemore, Professor of European Politics, both from Queen's University Belfast, to provide members with an update on EU Exit.

With political calls for Article 16 to be invoked, Stewart enquired as to whether the current challenges Northern Ireland is facing in the immediate aftermath of the conclusion of the transition period, are sufficient for Article 16 to be triggered? And if so, what actions under the article would be taken to resolve these issues? Stewart also enquired whether the end of the three month grace period would be a smoother transition than we have seen so far in 2021.

Professor Phinnemore replied that Article 16 is a 'last resort mechanism' that would not disapply the protocol - it is a safeguarding clause, which are common in Free Trade Agreements, but very rarely invoked. Professor Hayward agreed, explaining that the article enables the continuity of the protocol.

With regards to the grace period, both sides have made it quite clear that an extension will not be up for negotiation and so full implementation will be expected from the 1st April. This will be a critical time with challenges expected regarding price pressures, systems alignment, and business reorientation - adjustments could be complex.

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