Following a statement made by the United Kingdom (UK) Chief BREXIT negotiator, David Frost, who announced the extension of the post-BREXIT "grace period" with respect to customs declaration requirements applying to goods entering Northern Ireland for an indefinite period, the European Commission (EC) highlighted the importance of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement as an international agreement. According to the EC, "the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (the Protocol) is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as the agreed solution between the UK and the EU to the problems caused by BREXIT for the island of Ireland. Both sides are legally bound to fulfil their obligations under the Agreement."
More specifically, the EC emphasized the fact that they will not agree with a renegotiation of the Protocol. Instead, the EC will continue working towards the achievement of stability, certainty and predictability, in order to protect the operation of the single market and to guarantee that businesses and citizens in Northern Ireland will reap the full benefits of the Protocol and, in particular, the access to the single market the Protocol provides.
Finally, the EC stated that they are not moving to the next stage of the infringement procedure launched in March 2021 nor will they open any new infringement procedures for now.
Note: Since 1 January 2021, the UK is a third country for customs duties and value added tax (VAT) purposes. However, the Protocol provides that the movement of goods between EU Member States and Northern Ireland will still qualify as intra-Community transactions. At the same time, the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will be considered as export and import transactions, requiring customs declaration formalities.