Doug will talk to the CEF about the Northern Ireland Protocol and prospects for the Union. He has been Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) since May 2021. He has been a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly since 2016 representing the Upper Bann constituency.
In September 2021, the UUP put forward a number of recommendations designed to fix the Northern Ireland Protocol, including a ‘bespoke SPS Treaty between the UK and EU’. Similarly, CEF has published its own possible solution to the Protocol: a self-standing, time-limited treaty between the UK and the EU on SPS measures. Although differences remain in overall approach, a number of parallels can be drawn between the two proposals.
The next meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which oversees the implementation of post-Brexit arrangements, is due to be held on 21 February; a week before Doug addresses CEF. It has been hinted that this is a hoped-for deadline for a deal to be reached.
As things currently stand, the Protocol looks set to dominate the upcoming Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Recent polling suggests that the election could be watershed moment for Northern Irish politics with Sinn Fein consistently placed top in the polls and the UUP picking up more of the moderate Unionist vote. Although with a considerable number of undecided voters – especially Unionist – it is still all to play for.
This meeting will be held under Chatham House rule.