The dispute between the European Union and Great Britain over the design of Brexit rules for Northern Ireland continues to deepen. The European Commission’s vice-president, Maros efčovič, said after a meeting with British Brexit minister David Frost in London on Wednesday that the EU has had a lot of patience, but it has now become “very, very thin”. He called on the government in London to restore lost confidence. Should the UK decide further unilaterally, the EU will respond – if necessary with retaliatory measures such as punitive tariffs.
Frost previously accused the EU of taking an “extreme and puritanical” approach. He called on Brussels to find a “practical solution” and, for his part, was ready to “consider all available options to achieve peace, prosperity and stability in Northern Ireland”. In the UK government’s view, “further negotiations are urgently needed to make real progress, particularly to avoid disruptions to critical delivery such as medicines”.
At the heart of the dispute between London and Brussels are the provisions of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. It is part of the 2019 Clearance Agreement and aims to prevent customs officials from inspecting trucks between the Republic of Ireland and British Northern Ireland. Therefore, the Protocol stipulates that Northern Ireland will continue to comply with EU excise regulations and customs regulations despite Brexit. However, the logical consequence is that the delivery of goods from England, Wales or Scotland to Northern Ireland must be checked.
On the sidelines of the G-7 summit, von der Leyen and Johnson want to talk about the controversy
There are transition periods so that British companies can adjust to the new customs formalities at Northern Ireland ports. However, some of them expired at the end of March – and were extended by the British government without authorization. The European Union Commission then initiated infringement proceedings against Great Britain because the government had violated its provisions. Northern Ireland Protocol should have been violated.
The controversy will also play a role in US President Joe Biden’s visit to Europe. Biden plans to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Cornwall this Thursday. One of the subjects should be the status of Northern Ireland, the US government announced. The G-7 summit will begin on Friday. The chairman of the commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also takes part in it. He and Johnson agreed to discuss the controversy on the margins of the convention.
Biden has previously expressed concern over the situation in Northern Ireland. Unlike their predecessor Donald Trump, Democrats see Brexit as a mistake and want to work to ensure that the EU and Great Britain find a solution and that the peace process in the formerly troubled province is no longer a burden.
British still don’t give EU access to customs computer systems
Even before the meeting between efčovič and Frost, the EU Commission warned that it was slowly losing patience with London. A senior Commission official said the agency needed to examine “all means and options” to protect the EU’s interests if the government fails to properly implement the deal and goes on a collision course. Will be In other words: the EU will take the next step in the infringement process. efčovič indirectly confirmed this on Wednesday. At the same time, Brussels is preparing a dispute settlement procedure, as provided for in the exit agreement.
The Commission not only condemns the unilateral extension of the transition period, but also complains that London has failed to meet other obligations. The EU still has no real access to the British Customs computer system and therefore cannot track the movement of goods in Northern Ireland. The commission also emphasized that it wanted to show flexibility on certain British complaints. For example, selling pharmaceuticals in Northern Ireland is problematic if they simply do not have British and EU approvals. The bureaucracy involved in transporting animals should also be reduced – for example, it should be simple to take guide dogs with you when traveling from England to Northern Ireland.
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