Brexit: Maros Sefcovic warns UK over Northern Ireland Protocol
When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters.Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer.Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights.You can unsubscribe at any time.
Foreign minister Simon Coveney insisted conceding ground to ensure the peace process is protected should not be seen as a “weakness”. Brussels and Britain are currently at loggerheads over the Brexit divorce deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent a hard border. No10 fears the overzealous implementation of EU red tape has caused trade frictions and potentially risks destabilising the region.
This has led to disruption on goods crossing the Irish Sea, with new checks imposed on those moving from Britain to the province.
Concerns have been raised that Northern Ireland’s place within the UK is being undermined.
Mr Coveney told the FT: “Pragmatism and flexibility within the confines of the protocol actually strengthens the protocol. It doesn’t weaken it.
“We shouldn’t see flexibility as a weakness or a concession.
“In fact, this is ensuring that we create an acceptance for and a full implementation of the protocol.”
Boris Johnson has threatened to suspend parts of the Withdrawal Agreement unless the EU agrees to relax the checks.
The Government wants an extension until 2023 of a series of “grace periods” that are in place for supermarket goods, chilled meats, parcels, medicines and pets crossing the Irish Sea.
But the EU has signalled any extensions will be much more limited.
To keep the Irish border open, the area effectively remains part of the EU’s single market and some checks are now made on some products arriving from the rest of the UK.
Brussels inflamed tensions when it announced plans to impose a hard border in order to prevent vaccines leaking into Britain via the Republic of Ireland.
The EU Commission has since reversed its decision, with its President Ursula von der Leyen claiming she “deeply regrets” the move.
Downing Street has called for an “urgent reset” because of disruptions the measures have introduced between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
MUST READ: Sturgeon’s currency plan in tatters as ‘Scotland to join euro in EU’
Whitehall officials fear the bloc underestimates Unionist anger over the customs controls.
Mr Coveney said: “Our focus has to be to try to listen to businesses and in particular to unionism in Northern Ireland and try to respond to the concerns that have been outline in as comprehensive a way as we can but – and I think it’s important to stress this – within the confines of the protocol.”
The foreign minister hinted Dublin would support “modest extensions” to grace periods, that are due to expire at the end of March.
Nexit: Dutch ‘only tolerated EU when UK was key member’ [ANALYSIS]
Take that Macron! WHO says Oxford vaccine is safe for over 60’s [INSIGHT]
Really!? Jean-Claude Juncker praised VDL over vaccine policy [REVEALED]
Brexit: Andrew Bailey discusses financial equivalence with EU
But he ruled out “permanent grace periods”,
Mr Coveney added: “We know that there are issues in relation to implementation that need to be resolved and we know that there are a series of asks here in terms of pragmatism and flexibility.
“We need to approach both with a view to trying to get a partnership to move this protocol forward – that can move away from the kind of polarised politics that we’ve seen over the last two weeks, particularly in Northern Ireland linked to the protocol, which very much had moved into the realm of identity politics, which is a dangerous space to move into.”
Source: Read Full Article