Boris Johnson warned EU could inflict ‘serious implications’ if Brexit trade war erupts

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Earlier this month, EU member state envoys described the UK’s data protection standards as sufficiently high enough that information will be allowed to flow between Britain and the bloc. This will allow the EU Commission to adopt two adequacy decisions before the end of June to allow a seamless transition at the end of a six-month grace period for data flows.

This relates to the EU’s overarching General Data Protection Regulation and a directive on processing data connected with criminal offences, including victims, witnesses and suspects.

The move was seen as a big boost for cross-Channel business and crime-fighting efforts after Brexit.

However, Jonathan Portes, of the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank, warned this is only a temporary agreement and the EU could withdraw at any time.

He warned this would have “pretty serious implications” before saying there are other “non-tariff barriers” to bloc could use to disrupt trade.

Professor Portes said: “The EU could legally withdraw that at any time – that would have pretty serious implications.

“There are other non-tariff barriers the EU could use to disrupt trade.

“It’s not hard to slow things down at Calais simply by imposing extra bureaucratic procedures.”

His comments come after the Prime Minister threatened to suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol unless the EU backs down on checks and restrictions.

Professor Portes added if the UK invoked Article 16 of the Protocol it would expose “a wider breakdown in the UK-EU relationship” and cause serious complications.

The Northern Ireland Protocol – agreed in the Brexit deal – is designed to avoid customs checks along the Irish border.

But, trust was badly damaged in January when the EU moved to block the export of COVID-19 vaccines across the Northern Ireland border.

The decision was ultimately reversed but the EU’s willingness to override the protocol using its “Article 16” emergency provisions during a health crisis caused cross-party shock.

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Earlier this month, the European Commission said it was ready to “suspend” parts of the Brexit trade deal unless the UK ended its refusal to implement the Protocol.

Britain accused the EU of taking a “purist” approach to the implementation mechanism which the UK says risks undermining the country’s internal market.

During the G7 Summit this month, Ms von der Leyen said: “The Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland are paramount.

“Both sides must implement what we agreed on.

“There is complete EU unity on this.”

However, Anand Menon, the think-tank’s director, argued Brussels had deliberately included the “non-compliance with the withdrawal agreement” as a justification for retaliation on trade.

Professor Menon said the EU had been “very political” in choosing how to inflict pain such as retaliatory tariffs against the US.

He said: “They targeted [senior Republican senator] Mitch McConnell, for instance, targeting with tariffs on whiskey.

“They will have thought through things that they think will hurt the government, politically, so it won’t be a sort of generalised tariff war.”

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