The Protocol specifies, largely in a series of annexes, those EU laws with which Northern Ireland law must remain aligned. As EU law is constantly evolving, the UK government is required to keep Northern Ireland aligned with amended or changed legislation which falls within the scope of the Protocol. This is referred to as dynamic alignment, and just over 300 regulations or directives apply to Northern Ireland in this way.
Regulations are legal acts that apply automatically and uniformly to all EU countries as soon as they enter into force, without needing to be transposed into national law. They are binding in their entirety on all EU countries.
Directives require EU countries to achieve a certain result, but leave them free to choose how to do so. EU countries must adopt measures to incorporate them into national law (transpose) in order to achieve the objectives set by the directive.
Other legal instruments
In addition to these key pieces of EU law, a large number of other legal instruments (mainly implementing regulations and implementing decisions) fall within the scope of the Protocol.
Exchange of information
The Joint Consultative Working Group (the JCWG), composed of representatives of the EU and the UK, was established under the Protocol to provide a forum for the exchange of information and mutual consultation. The Protocol provides that, within the JCWG, the EU shall inform the UK about planned laws that amend or replace EU law listed in the Protocol.
Where the EU creates new law that falls within the scope of the Protocol, but which neither amends nor replaces an act listed in the annexes to the Protocol, a procedure, involving the JCWG and the Joint Committee, exists in order to address the proper functioning of the Protocol.
EUR-Lex is an online gateway to EU law. It provides the official and most comprehensive access to EU legal documents. It is available in each of the EU’s 24 official languages and is updated daily.
A EUR-Lex page on the Protocol contains a search link for Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland related documents on EUR-Lex