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Within 2 months of the “initial period” (the period ending 4 years after the end of the transition period), and any subsequent period (each 4 year period thereafter where the Northern Ireland Protocol continues to apply),  the UK will provide the opportunity for democratic consent in Northern Ireland – in line with the 1998 Agreement and respecting the roles of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.


Where the Assembly votes by a majority to continue to apply the terms of the Protocol, it will continue to apply for a further 4 years. Where the decision has cross-community support, it will continue to apply for a further 8 years.  Cross-community support means a majority, including a majority of unionist and nationalist members or a weighted majority of 60% of members, including at least 40% of each of the nationalist and unionist members.


If the Assembly votes to exit the Protocol, it will cease to apply 2 years after the end of the relevant 4 year period.  In such a case the “joint committee” which includes representatives from the UK and the EU will address recommendations to the EU and the UK on necessary measures taking into account the obligations of the parties to the 1998 Agreement.  Before doing so, they may seek an opinion from the institutions created by the 1998 Agreement.

Regulatory Alignment and the Single Market

The Northern Ireland Protocol effectively places Northern Ireland in the regulatory sphere of both the UK’s internal market (e.g. in relation to financial services) and the EU’s Single Market (e.g. in relation to Agricultural products and manufactured goods). 

Article 12 of the Protocol on Northern Ireland provides that the UK will be responsible for ensuring the implementation of relevant EU law in Northern Ireland.  EU representatives will have the right to be present during any activities of the UK authorities in relation to policing implementation and can request the UK authorities to carry out control measures on a case by case basis.

Ultimate oversight will rest with the Court of Justice of the European Union, though the UK may participate in the proceedings in the same way as a Member State.