Governance for 'a place between': the multilevel dynamics of implementing the Protocol on Northern Ireland

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch of Hist, Anthrop, Philos & Politics

Abstract

Brexit means that Northern Ireland (NI) is located at the interface of the UK and the EU. This is not just in geographical terms; the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and its Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland place NI in a position of being outside the EU but subject to EU rules. This small region, although formally outside the EU, will actually be partly in the EU governance system - and in a way never seen before by any other region or state.

The WA and Protocol thus raise enormously significant challenges for policy-making and for governance in and of NI, as well as for the UK and the EU. It also raises big questions about legitimacy. The Protocol is contested by all sides in NI and devolved government in NI remains fragile (Brexit being still a divisive subject). Uncertainty is worsened by the fact that the democratic consent mechanism in the Protocol means that a vote by members of the NI Assembly (from as early as November 2024) could result in core elements of the Protocol being dropped.

Implementing the Protocol will give rise to a new form of what we define as 'perched' multilevel governance for NI. Given the evolving nature of the post-Brexit UK-EU relationship and UK trade policy (which will affect the impact of the Protocol in real terms in NI), these dynamic arrangements need to be mapped and tracked. This project will do this, as well as explaining the implications and identifying problems. It will also create the means by which informed key stakeholders can together find solutions to those problems.

This ambitious project will make a weighty contribution to scholarship on multilevel governance, but it will also test a hypothesis about ways to improve legitimacy through problem-solving. In addition, it will produce original and comparative qualitative and quantitative data to inform policymakers at all levels of governance affecting NI. This research and case study has major importance for the quality of post-Brexit governance across the whole UK.
 
Description Blogposts 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Whitten, L. 'Northern Ireland: a constitutional exception and why it matters', The Constitution Society, 22 September 2021
Melo Araujo, B. 'Northern Ireland protocol: here's what a compromise between EU and UK could look like', The Conversation, 29 July 2021
Hayward, K. 'Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the new command paper', UK in a Changing Europe, 26 July 2021
Hayward, K. 'Irish sea border: trust is the biggest problem for the Northern Ireland protocol', The Conversation, 12 July 2021
Phinnemore, D. 'The Northern Ireland Protocol and its implementation', Encompass, July 2021
Melo Araujo, B. 'Why are British sausages being blocked from entry into Northern Ireland? The dispute explained', The Conversation, 11 June 2021
Phinnemore, D. and Hayward, K. 'Brexit and the Future of Northern Ireland', Institut Montaigne, 12 May 2021
Hayward, K. and Phinnemore, D. 'Northern Ireland voters and the Protocol', UK in a Changing Europe, 23 April 2021
Hayward, K. et al 'The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland', UK in a Changing Europe, 8 April 2021
Phinnemore, D. 'Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland: act jointly one day, unilaterally the next', UK in a Changing Europe, 5 March 2021
Hayward, K. 'Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol: the EU must play the long-game', LSE Brexit Blog, 4 March 2021
Whitten, L. 'The Politics of the Northern Ireland Protocol', UK in a Changing Europe, 9 February 2021
Hayward, K. and Phinnemore, D. 'Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol: Article 16', AgendaNI, February 2021
Melo Araujo, B. 'Brexit trade problems: what's gone wrong and can it be fixed?', The Conversation, 14 January 2021
Hayward, K. and Phinnemore, D. 'Article 16 of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol offers no 'quick fix', LSE Brexit Blog, 11 January 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
URL https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/post-brexit-governance-ni/ProjectPublications/
 
Description Briefing for Oireachtas - Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Briefing on project and research findings to members of the Oireachtas - Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Engagement with Westminster politicians 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Ongoing engagement with selected MPs and members of the House of Lords regarding project activities and outputs
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description Engagement with officials from EU member states, the European Commission, the Irish government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the UK government 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Regular, ongoing presentation of project findings, notably around stakeholder workshops and opinion polling, to officials engaged in the management of the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. Discussion provide feedback on the project, promote discussion around findings and potential solutions to issues raised.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description Engagement with political parties in Northern Ireland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Regular briefings on analysis of opinion polling and updates on project activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description European Policy Centre - UK-EU Track 2 Contributions 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of research project findings as part of invitation only off-the-record discussions among UK and EU policymakers/officials and other practitioner and academic experts
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Media Engagement - International 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ongoing media engagement through interviews for newspapers and for radio and television, particularly around developments in the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the findings of opinion polling carried out for the project.

Print media - international: De Tijd, Globe and Mail, Handelsblatt, Irish Times, Le Monde, Les Echos, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Polish Press Agency, Politico, Tagesspiegel
Broadcast Media - Radio: ABC, ORF, RTE, Swedish Radio
Broadcast Media - TV: CGTN, TRT
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description Media Engagement - National 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ongoing media engagement through interviews for newspapers and for radio and television, particularly around developments in the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the findings of opinion polling carried out for the project.

Print media - national/international: Financial Times, The Guardian
Broadcast Media - Radio: BBC Radio 5 Live,
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description Media Engagement - Regional 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Ongoing media engagement through interviews for newspapers and for radio and television, particularly around developments in the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the findings of opinion polling carried out for the project.

Print media - local/regional: Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, Newsletter
Broadcast Media - TV: BBC Ulster, UTV
Broadcast Media - Radio: BBC Radio Foyle, BBC Radio Ulster, RTE
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description Newspaper Articles 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Phinnemore, D. and Hayward, K. 'Northern Ireland's voice on the protocol needs to be heard', Irish Times, 5 September 2021
Phinnemore, D. 'The Northern Ireland protocol isn't perfect - but the UK and EU can make it work', The Guardian, 14 June 2021
Phinnemore, D. and Hayward, K. 'Crisis of confidence: Government has a lot to do to win back our trust', Belfast Telegraph, 21 April 2021
Hayward, K. and Phinnemore, D. 'People across Northern Ireland fear that the protocol will damage political stability', The Guardian, 21 April 2021
Hayward, K. 'Who's responsible for the violence in Northern Ireland?', Politico, 9 April 2021
Phinnemore, D. 'Brexit is increasing tension in Northern Ireland, but the protocol is the only way', The Guardian, 4 February 2021
Hayward, K. and Phinnemore, D. 'Why Article 16 is no magic bullet to fix the Irish Sea border', Belfast Telegraph, 14 January 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
URL https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/post-brexit-governance-ni/ProjectPublications/
 
Description One year on: what next for the Northern Ireland Protocol (28 February 2022) - Institute for Government 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event, hosted by the Institute for Government, featured a panel discussion broadcast live (with recording posted online) followed by a closed discussion with a group of invited policy-makers, politicians, policy experts. The event addressed questions such as: What lessons are there from the protocol's first year? Why does the protocol continue to be a source of tension in the UK-EU relationship and such a divisive issue in Northern Ireland? Are attitudes changing? Where are the sticking points, and where is the protocol working well? What challenges are coming down the track and where can compromise be found?

Panel:
Professor Katy Hayward, Professor of Political Sociology, Queen's University Belfast and Senior Fellow at UK in a Changing Europe
Professor David Phinnemore, Professor of European Politics at Queen's University Belfast
Raoul Ruparel, former Special Adviser to Theresa May on Europe
Jess Sargeant, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Government
Jill Rutter, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government (Chair)

At the event we had:
- 459 total online registrations
- 18 people attend in person
- 201 people watch the event live

Within four days (4 March 2022) the event had had
- 544 views on the IfG's YouTube channel
- 348 listens on IfG's SoundCloud page
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/events/what-next-northern-ireland-protocol
 
Description Post-Brexit Clinics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Post-Brexit Clinics are open the public and organized in collaboration with Queen's Policy Engagement team. Their purpose is to provide regular academically-informed assessments of key developments in the Brexit process and promote awareness of the terms and implications of the UK's withdrawal from and post-Brexit relationship with the EU, particularly as they relate to the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. They are also designed to increase awareness of Brexit/Protocol implementation issues of concern to stakeholders in Northern Ireland and to encourage informed discussion of Brexit-related issues within Northern Ireland.

Each Post-Brexit Clinic will normally last c90 minutes and involve 3-4 x 10-minute presentations on key 'Post-Brexit' issues particularly as these relate to Northern Ireland and the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. These will then be followed by a facilitated discussion/Q&A session. Presentation slides are made available online via Queen's Public Engagement along with a recording of the presentations. To receive information about forthcoming Post-Brexit Clinics, please register here. Recordings of and slides from Post-Brexit Clinics are available online.

Post-Brexit Clinics have been held in: February 2021, April 2021, June 2021, October 2021, December 2021, March 2022
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
URL https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/post-brexit-governance-ni/ProjectEvents/
 
Description Post-Brexit Governance NI 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Monitor provides an authoritative source of up-to-date information on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. It includes the legal text of the Protocol as well links to applicable EU acts. There is a section detailing the activities and outputs of the committees and other bodies that form the institutional framework that has been established to oversee the Protocol's implementation. There are also sections that detail legal action relating to the Protocol and the scrutiny activities of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the UK Parliament and other bodies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
URL https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/post-brexit-governance-ni/
 
Description Post-Brexit Governance NI - Masterclass Presentation to UK Civil Servants 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Online Masterclass introduction to the research project and findings from opinion polling analysis held at Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, London, in February 2022 - advertised across Whitehall and to all FCDO missions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Presentation to European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefcovic 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of research project and findings, particularly around facilitating the voice of Northern Ireland in the governance of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and issues of core concern to people in Northern Ireland regarding the effects of the Protocol.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/post-brexit-governance-ni/ProjectEvents/QAsessionwithEUVicePresidentMaro...
 
Description Stakeholder Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The workshops gather views about the effects of the Protocol from sectors most affected by it. They discuss: examples of problems that have arisen during the process of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and the first year since the Protocol's full entry into force and which have been successfully addressed, either in whole or in part; new problems that have arisen since the previous workshop and problems relating to the implementation of the Protocol that persist unnecessarily; discuss solutions and/or actions that would be necessary to address problems relating to the implementation of the Protocol any factors on which such solutions/actions depend.

Workshops have been held in: June 2021, October 2021, February 2022
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022