Brexit: Lord Frost hits out at EU over Northern Ireland Protocol
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Tony Connelly, Europe Editor for Irish broadcaster RTE, took to Twitter to reveal that top EU diplomats have always believed the UK’s goals for deals with the EU are “unattainable,” despite continuing to engage in drawn-out talks. This comes as the UK halts threats to trigger Article 16 immediately, with Brexit Minister Lord Frost urging the EU to “stay calm and keep things in proportion” in negotiations between the bloc and the UK.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak backed up the words of Lord Frost, calling Article 16 a “safety mechanism” in any potential trade war with the EU.
Mr Connelly posted that an EU official said: “We think that we’ve proven beyond a reasonable doubt that EU’s proposals constitute a significant difference in comparison to the baseline scenario, which is the actual NI protocol as it stood on the day it was designed + even go beyond the status quo as it stands.”
In a subsequent tweet, Mr Connelly relayed that the official said: “The UK command paper was an extremely significant step in the wrong direction, and presenting it as a step in the right direction.
“I think it’s completely disingenuous.”
Mr Connelly described: “The official says there is “a point of commonality” between both sides in that goods moving from GB to NI [should] be treated differently depending on whether their final destination is Northern Ireland, or whether their final destination is the European Union (ie Ireland).”
The official added: “The question is, how do you determine whether a good is destined for Northern Ireland or for the internal market?
“What we think does not work is just to leave it to traders to say where it goes.”
Speaking about the European Court of Justice, the official told Mr Connelly that “the UK position on governance is that the role of the EU institutions [in the protocol] needs to go.
“The question of the ECJ is a broader one in the sense that the ECJ is on top of a much broader governance structure, which the UK does not accept.
“So long as that remains the UK’s position I don’t see what we can do.”
This comes after weeks of escalating threats and rhetoric over Article 16 on both sides of the Brexit argument, with Lord Frost repeatedly raising the possibility of triggering the Northern Ireland Protocol’s suspension.
He criticised the EU’s proposals to ease trade tensions as not comprehensive enough.
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The EU retaliated by warning of “serious consequences” if the UK was to go down that route.
EU Commission Vice-President, Maros Sefcovic, said on Friday: “Let there be no doubt that triggering Article 16 – to seek the renegotiation of the Protocol – would have serious consequences.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has visited the White House this week to discuss the Northern Ireland Protocol with US President Joe Biden.
Ms von der Leyen announced that Mr Biden had agreed with Brussels’ position on the Northern Ireland Protocol, maintaining that the UK should continue on terms as they currently stand.
Ms von der Leyen said: “President Biden and I agreed on the need to preserve peace and stability on the island of Island.
“We agree that the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol should be implemented.
“They are an efficient answer to the difficulties created by Brexit.
“Now, Northern Ireland has access to both the EU and UK single markets.
“We can be flexible but we need to stick to them.”
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