Inside Story

What’s behind the UK-EU dispute in Northern Ireland?

The United Kingdom says the Northern Ireland trade rules under Brexit are not working.

When the United Kingdom left the European Union, both sides agreed to a set of trade rules known as the Northern Ireland protocol.

Goods from the UK are checked at ports in Northern Ireland.

The province remains in the EU’s single market, so trade can flow freely across its land border with the Republic of Ireland.

But nearly two years after Brexit, the UK says that arrangement is not working.

The government wants a new deal, and doesn’t want the European Court of Justice – as agreed under Brexit – to have oversight of the protocol.

The EU is offering to remove some customs checks, but is calling for compromise.

Is this a dispute about trade, or politics?

And could it risk the peace in Northern Ireland?

Presenter: Peter Dobbie


Owen Reidy – Assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Nicholas Whyte – Senior director in Brussels for APCO, a global public affairs and strategic communications consultancy

Graham Gudgin – Research associate, University of Cambridge, and former special adviser to the former first minister of Northern Ireland, David Trimble