EU appears to have ‘made significant headway’ with new offer on Northern Ireland Protocol


Lord Frost – Peter Byrne / PA

The EU appears to have “made significant progress” with its offer of a New Brexit deal for Northern IrelandLord Frost said, calling for the opening of intensive talks with Brussels.

As a sign that the threat to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol was for the moment suspended, the Brexit Minister said he would work “very hard” to strike a deal with the EU.

The European Commission is expected to present proposals on Wednesday that drastically reduce the number of customs checks on UK goods imported to Northern Ireland.

But Brussels is expected to reject a British demand to strip European judges of their oversight role over EU law in the province, which continues to follow certain single market rules to avoid a hard Irish border.

Lord Frost said: “We are waiting for proposals from the EU today, and we will obviously examine them very carefully and positively. We now need a process of intensive talks and to try to find a deal that everyone can support. This is what we want to happen.

“Obviously we haven’t seen what the Commission has come up with, I hope it has evolved considerably, and of course we will see things positively if they did, but we will wait and see what happens. ‘they suggest, then we’ll see what we can do.

Britain had demanded “significant” changes to the protocol, which created a customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Goods are currently subject to checks to ensure they meet EU standards in case they cross the invisible border into Ireland, an EU member state.

The proposals could remove up to 50 percent of controls on goods and about 80 percent of SPS controls, which relate to animal and plant health. Goods destined for Northern Ireland could only take one “expressway” when entering the province from Great Britain.

Brussels wants real-time access to UK trade databases in order to monitor products entering the Republic of Ireland, the EU’s external border, and for the UK to fully implement existing requirements in the Protocol on border posts.

Maros Sefcovic - Brian Lawless / PA

Maros Sefcovic – Brian Lawless / PA

Speaking to broadcasters, Lord Frost said the Northern Ireland protocol “undermines” the Good Friday deal.

But when asked if a compromise was possible based on the briefings so far, he said: “So we would really like to get a consensus solution, we are working very hard to get one, obviously it is. the best way forward if we can come to an agreement and build a new future for Northern Ireland.

Lord Frost said the reach of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was a key issue.

“The problem with the protocol at the moment is that EU law, with the ECJ as enforcer, is applied in Northern Ireland without any kind of democratic process.

“So we have to find a solution that everyone can support, and that means looking at some of the fundamentals, that means we have to come up with a meaningful change solution.”

It came as Dominic Cummings risked stoking tensions with Brussels at a critical time by claiming that the UK had never intended to stick to the deal he signed with the ‘EU in 2019.

The former adviser and prime minister’s mastermind behind Vote Leave said it was always intended to “drop things we didn’t like” in the protocol after it was negotiated.

Leo Varadkar - Niall Carson / PA

Leo Varadkar – Niall Carson / PA

His comments contradict the government’s insistence that it negotiated the deal in good faith and sought to implement it.

Dublin said Mr Cummings’ comments were “alarming”, with Leo Varadkar, who negotiated the protocol with Mr Johnson during Irish PM in 2019, suggesting countries around the world should think twice before conclude agreements with the United Kingdom.

Mr Varadkar, who is now Irish Deputy Prime Minister, said: “I hope Dominic Cummings speaks for himself and not for the UK government. But these comments are very alarming because it would indicate that this is a government, an administration, which has acted in bad faith and that this message must be heard around the world.

“If the British government does not honor its agreements, it does not adhere to the treaties it signs, which must apply to everyone as well.

“Right now they’re going around the world trying to negotiate new trade deals… Surely the message needs to be sent to every country in the world that this is a UK government that doesn’t necessarily keep its own. word. and does not necessarily honor the agreements it makes.

“And you shouldn’t make a deal with them until you’re sure they’re keeping their promises and honoring things like, like protocol.”



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