“With inflation rising to a 40 year high, the Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group call on the EU and the UK to redouble their efforts to resolve their differences on the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol and find an agreement based on compromise.

For too long this issue has been dominated by inflexibility and intransigence but Northern Ireland is now facing into the most difficult of winters. It is our view that the scale of the current economic challenge is such that it demands a swift resolution to the impasse.

Our communities are amongst the least well placed to manage the cost of living crisis, with households seeing the largest fall in discretionary spend of any UK region this year. As a priority, any agreed outcome must protect GB-NI consumer facing supply chains, and tackle the disproportionate burden placed on goods that are not at any material risk of entering the EU single market. This will require much more ambition than we have seen to date from the EU on the issues of SPS and parcels in particular.

We have also been clear with the UK government that if it proceeds unilaterally with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, particularly with the creation of an all-encompassing dual regulatory regime, it will create a myriad of reputational, legal and commercial risks for many of our businesses. Northern Ireland has been a top performing region in exporting goods since EU Exit, but that is now being put at risk.

The need for an urgent resolution is readily apparent, but it will become much more acute as we move through the second half of this year. It remains our firm belief that through agreement, with ambition, flexibility and compromise from both sides, a balance between upholding much needed access to the GB market and protecting the EU single market is achievable. The EU and the UK, acting together, have a responsibility to deliver this.”

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