On 23 June 2016, the UK voted in a referendum to leave the EU. On 29 March 2017, Theresa May, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, wrote to european Council President Donald Tusk triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, triggering the process for a member state to leave the EU. The Article 50 procedure provides for a two-year period for the negotiation of a withdrawal agreement which should take into account future relations between the EU and the outgoing Member State. At the request of the United Kingdom, the Article 50 deadline was finally extended until 31 January 2020. On 17 October 2019, the EU and the UK agreed on the text of a withdrawal agreement, which was unanimously approved by the European Council. The Northern Ireland Protocol, known as the Irish Backstop, was an annex to the November 2018 draft agreement outlining provisions to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK`s withdrawal from the European Union. The protocol provided for a provision of the safety net to deal with the circumstances in which satisfactory alternative arrangements were to come into force at the end of the transition period. This project has been replaced by a new protocol that will be described as follows. Some EU rules on food and agriculture also apply to NI during the backstop period.
Existing controls on animals and animal products moving from the UK to NI need to be strengthened. The political statement states that provisions to address health and plant protection barriers to trade barriers should be introduced “on the basis of WTO agreements and going beyond.” The agreement was revised as part of the Johnson Department renegotiation in 2019. The amendments amend about 5% of the text For the EU, negotiations will take place in accordance with Articles 207 and 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which govern negotiations with third countries and which have a much more demanding approval procedure than the withdrawal agreement. Member States must approve each agreement unanimously and, if the agreement extends to areas still managed by the states themselves (certain services and investments), each of them must be subject to a ratification process that may involve its national and regional parliaments.