The NI protocol, known as “backstop,” is supposed to be temporary and applies unless it is replaced by a future relationship agreement that the parties will attempt to reach by December 31, 2020. The protocol provides that the common travel area and North-South cooperation will continue to a large extent as they do today, as well as the internal electricity market (so that some EU legislation on wholesale electricity markets will continue to apply). The agreement defines the goods, services and processes associated with them. Any provision of goods or services legally put on the market before leaving the EU may be made available to consumers in the UK or in the EU Member States (Article 40-41). This triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, which defines the procedure for the withdrawal of an EU member state, thus opening a two-year countdown to withdrawal. Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, JO L 347 of 28.12.1999 and Bull. JO L 29 31.01.19, p. 7-187 On 6 September 2020, the Financial Times reported that the British government was developing new legislation to circumvent the protocol of the withdrawal agreement in Northern Ireland.  The new law would give ministers the power to determine which state aid should be notified to the EU and to define which products at risk of being transferred from Northern Ireland to Ireland (the withdrawal agreement stipulates that in the absence of a reciprocal agreement, all products are considered vulnerable).  The government defended this approach and stated that the legislation was in accordance with protocol and that it had only “clarified” the volumity in the protocol.  Ursula von der Leyen warned Johnson not to violate international law and said that the implementation of the withdrawal agreement by Britain was a “precondition for any future partnership”.  On 8 September, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, told the British Parliament that the government`s internal market bill would “violate international law”.”  It is essential that the transition period can be extended by a mutual agreement between the EU and the UNITED Kingdom. Please note that, in accordance with the agreement, the transitional period can only be extended once until 31 December 2022 and that the United Kingdom and the European Union must make a decision by 1 July 2020 on whether such an extension should be made.
In practice, it is unlikely that the EU will raise objections if the UK asks for an extension, so the ball will be in the british Court of Justice`s court on that front. If, at the end of the transition period, the EU and the UK fail to reach an agreement on their future relations guaranteeing the absence of a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the “backstop of Northern Ireland” will come into force. In this case, Northern Ireland will be part of the UK customs territory, but it will be aligned with a limited set of EU rules, particularly with regard to goods.