The European Union will not accept London’s demands for an alternative arbitrator to settle post-Brexit trade disputes involving Northern Ireland, Dublin said on Thursday after the EU offered further concessions.
Brussels presented a series of proposals on Wednesday, including cutting customs controls and red tape on British goods destined for Northern Ireland, in a bid to tackle problems caused by the Brexit deal signed the year last.
But there has been no movement on what Britain says is one of its red lines: the role of the EU’s European Court of Justice (ECJ) as arbiter in any post dispute. -Brexit involving the province.
“There should be no role for the ECJ in any part of the UK, including Northern Ireland,” UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News on Thursday, calling it “one of the most important issues “.
But when asked by British Times Radio whether the EU would consider an alternative arbitration system, Irish Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne replied: “No, I don’t think so.
“It is not for the European Court of Justice to have any sovereignty over Great Britain or any part of Great Britain.
“It is simply the fact that the European Court of Justice arbitrates in the single market of the European Union, in which Northern Ireland has been allowed to remain,” he added.
A team of EU negotiators handed the plans to London on Wednesday, a day after UK Brexit Minister David Frost said the current deal – known as the Northern Ireland Protocol – should be broken.
“We look forward to engaging seriously and intensively with the UK government, for the benefit of all communities in Northern Ireland,” said European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic.
– ‘Starting point’ –
Sections of the pro-British Unionist community in Northern Ireland have revolted against the implementation of the protocol, which they say creates a wedge between the province and the rest of the UK.
They are also worried that it will increase Republican pressure for a united Ireland following the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.
Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, said he had had a “useful and honest discussion” with Sefcovic on Thursday.
“I welcomed the change of mind in Brussels with the decision to renegotiate,” Donaldson said in a statement.
“I have also explained why the proposals fall short of what is necessary. We need a lasting solution that removes the border from the Irish Sea and restores our place within the UK.”
London said earlier it would consider the proposals “seriously and constructively”.
The design of the protocol has been a major source of friction in Britain’s protracted divorce from the EU after voting to leave the bloc in 2016.
The two sides say they want to preserve peace and stability by avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, which is divided between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, and the British province.
To achieve this, Northern Ireland – torn for decades until 1998 by violence against British rule – was given unique status as a member of both the UK and the EU’s single market. .
This required new checkpoints at ports to prevent goods from England, Scotland and Wales from entering the EU via Ireland – a key source of anger among trade unionists.
To ease the friction, the EU has published four texts to deal with complaints about the limited supply of medicines, overzealous food safety checks and excessive paperwork.
Taken together, the solutions would create an “expressway” for the movement of goods from Britain to Northern Ireland, the EU said.
But above the talks looms Article 16 of the protocol – which gives each party the right to suspend parts of the trade agreement in exceptional circumstances.
Britain has threatened to use this provision by early November if the EU does not redesign the protocol.
jwp / phz / ach