Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol: Quick guide

Published 30/11/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

The Northern Ireland Protocol (“the Protocol”) is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, which set the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. It set up new arrangements for the UK-EU land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, an EU Member State.

In recent months, the UK Government has called on the EU to renegotiate the Protocol because it is leading to several issues, some of which it lists as “disruption to supply chains, increased costs, and reduced choice for consumers” in Northern Ireland.

Lord David Frost has repeatedly warned that the UK could use Article 16 if changes to the Protocol aren’t made. Article 16 allows for safeguarding measures to be taken if the Protocol leads to certain difficulties, or to trade diversions. The First Minister has said that this would “make a difficult situation worse, not better” and should be avoided.

This quick guide

  • explains Article 16 in detail, including how measures may be implemented domestically;
  • summarises possible changes to the Protocol;
  • explains the Withdrawal Agreement’s dispute settlement procedure.

Article by Sara Moran, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament