The European Commission expects permanent border controls at the Northern Irish border to be in place by the middle of the year despite Agricultural Minister Gordon Lyons of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) ordering the halt of any further work on border control facilities.
Commission spokesman for UK-EU negotiations Daniel Ferrie emphasised the UK needed to commit to what was agreed in the Joint Committee last December. Permanent facilities are due to be built at Belfast, Larne, Warrenpoint, and Foyle ports in Northern Ireland, but these projects are still in the design and preparatory phases.
The DUP and other unionist parties in Northern Ireland have been pushing for the protocol to be abandoned, claiming that an economic wedge between Ireland and the UK has been created due to the extra custom checks on the Irish Sea to ensure compliance with the EU single market.
Sinn Fein, SDLP, and Alliance Party ministers have criticised Lyons’ decision.