Council updated on NI Protocol implications

Elected members on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have been updated on the challenges and opportunities for the area resulting from the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The protocol means that from January 2021, Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU customs rules, even though it remains part of UK customs territory.

The government has said that when it takes effect in January it will not mean new processes for Northern Ireland to Great Britain trade.

Mid and East Antrim, as the home of the strategically placed port of Larne, has been a key area during discussions regarding future Northern Ireland trade.

As the shortest, fastest crossing between Northern Ireland and Scotland, it continues to be a critical arterial route between Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.

Larne is also the only approved port in Northern Ireland for the import of livestock.

At the August 2020 meeting of full council, elected members were updated on the latest negotiations regarding the Northern Ireland protocol, and council’s ongoing engagement with the UK government, Northern Ireland Executive and Port of Larne.

Speaking afterwards, Mayor Councillor Peter Johnston said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council believes unfettered access to the Great Britain market is essential for our economy.

“Northern Ireland purchases and sells more to Great Britain than any other destination.

“Any restriction of access to this market would have a significant impact on the Northern Ireland economy and that of Mid and East Antrim, particularly around agri-food products and manufacturing.

“We remain focused on mitigating any impacts on Mid and East Antrim and capitalising on all opportunities for economic growth. I encourage businesses to register for the Government’s new Trader Support Service, which has gone live last week.”

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee opened an inquiry into unfettered access between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, with Council Chief Executive Anne Donaghy presenting evidence on behalf of Council.

Members of the public can listen back to the Council meeting on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s website.