NIHRC and ECNI submission on the UK and EU proposals and the prospects for Agreement to the House of Lords Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland
Date produced November 2021.
In summary, the Commissions recommend that:
UK Government Command Paper
- there are no changes to the Protocol that would result in a weakening of either the Article 2 (1) commitment or the Protocol’s rights, safeguards and oversight mechanisms relating to this commitment;
- there is adequate and sustained resourcing of the two Commissions;
- the NI Executive and Departments ensure effective and regular engagement with civil society, including human rights/equality groups.
- the NI Executive work with the UK Government and on a North-South basis to build strong open channels of communication;
- the Commissions are kept informed of any future EU equality law developments relevant to the Annex 1 equality Directives in the Protocol, and have the opportunity to highlight in advance any implications of those changes for equality law in Northern Ireland.
- the EU makes clear on its proposed website whether the proposed/updated EU law is applicable to any of the Annexes in the Protocol;
- proposals on increased transparency relating to the JCWG are extended to include the publication of agendas in advance of meetings;
- any proposals on the development of “structured groups” within the JCWG considers establishing a group focused on Article 2 issues;
- fora for dialogue with NI stakeholders should include engagement with the Commissions and equality and human rights stakeholders;
- further clarification is provided by the UK Government/EU as to how the Specialised Committee will engage with the Commissions;
- the UK Government and the supervisory bodies under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and the UK-EU Trade & Co-Operation Agreement establish formal structures for open, transparent and regular engagement with equality/human rights stakeholders;
- any agreed proposals on structured engagement with NI civil society include those working on equality/human rights cross border issues;
- the UK Government and EU urgently reach agreement on long-term, sustainable solutions relating to the supply from GB to NI of medicines and foods affecting faith communities in NI, and on assistance dogs travelling from Great Britain to NI.