Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

The Northern Ireland Protocol: Trigger Article 16!


Where is the evidence that this ruling has saved anyone from being exposed to sub standard or dangerous products?

We have heard so much from the EU Big Wigs and European politicians about how important it is to have checks on goods going from one part of the United Kingdom to another – mainland UK to Northern Ireland - it is therefore vital to actually research how effective these checks have been. For example how many people in the EU 27 and particularly the Irish have been protected from poisoning or their environment contaminated from products or produce shipped from the mainland. Which surely is the whole point of why inspections were demanded - isn't it?

The way to establish this is for the Civil Service to research what percentage of products since the start of this EU operation have been refused entry for being genuinely sub-standard. That is taking aside the nonsense of the wrong colour ink on some of the paperwork or not being given 10 out of 10 by the EU for other "naughty boy" homework errors in the huge volume of pointless form filling.

The vast majority of us have no dispute with the theory that this trading block (can't call it a county just yet) wanting to to maintain standards for their member states is an understandable goal. I myself over many years was involved in having products produced in the Far East and then shipping them to several different EU countries. Although it's worth noting that some of the rules to be able to obtain the laboratory certification (and therefore use the CE marking) for my products were to say the least 'over the top' and not in line with other international standards but were certainly expensive and time consuming. OK that was what was demanded and to complete sales legally we went with the flow and had to suffer delays and reduced profit margins – such is business.

Now if the EU protocol for NI is to protect the EU population and is not there as some devious device to punish us for daring to leave the EU (surely that could not be the case) let's now see the results of what they have achieved. I believe this will be a very small percentage, as if products compiled before we left the EU it is very unlikely suppliers standards would have dropped – realistically the reverse would be true to make sure of supply continuity.

My contention is that these bureaucratic rules have achieved virtually nothing since their introduction in terms of saving people's health and the environment. Plus the likely small percentage of items that may have been rejected are probably only marginally outside the regulations for pure technical/paper work reasons and would have done no harm to anyone anyway if they had not been checked.

By getting these figures published in the media the NI protocol in respect of products/items from the UK will be shown up for what it is. I had an opportunity to put this point to Lord Frost at the Conservative Party Conference after his presentation at the Centre for Brexit fringe meeting (he made a great speech by the way) and asked him to release these numbers to the media. He acknowledged this could be an important point and would see what he could do.

I have since dropped him a line to emphasise the importance of testing the validity of these border checks by using the numbers – of course he is a very busy man - let's see if he has time to follow this through.

Now, has anyone heard in any speech from Maroš Šefčovič, any other EU bureaucrats or any French politician for that matter, utter the words, "We acknowledge that Northern Ireland is part of the independent sovereign state of the United Kingdom..." Don't hold your breath as for sure they seem not to want to admit this basic fact – perhaps they don't know.

Anyway, 16 has always been one of my favourite numbers – hope to hear it quoted again soon in the context of triggering the Article! 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames