Brussels needs to take another step to resolve the growing conflict with the United Kingdom over the situation in Northern Ireland. That’s what British Brexit minister David Frost says to Politico on Friday. The European Commission came forward on Wednesday with a plan that would remove a large part of customs controls in Northern Ireland, but the British do not see that as yet.
The conflict over the so-called Northern Ireland protocol revolves around the consequences Brexit has had for Northern Ireland. The country remains largely part of the European internal market, allowing the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland to remain open. This requires customs controls to get British products into the Northern Irish part. This has led, among other things, to shortages in supermarkets.
The United Kingdom now wants to scrap the protocol and conclude a new deal, in order to facilitate the transfer of products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. However, the EU does not want to conclude a new deal because the British agreed to the current situation only last year. However, she did say that she wanted to change things within the framework of the protocol. An EU proposal from last Wednesday would put an end to more than half of customs controls.
But that’s not enough, Frost says Friday. “We see that the EU has really done its best with this proposal, but there is still a long way to go”, the minister said. Frost has been insisting on the word” supervision ” for some time now, referring to the role of the European Court of Justice. The court oversees the application of the rules in Northern Ireland, while the British prefer an international arbitration system.
The EU and the UK will meet on Friday to discuss the situation, but a solution is not expected there. If the two former married couples do not get out quickly, the British are threatening a so-called Article 16 procedure, which allows parts of the deal to be unilaterally set aside in certain circumstances.
The growing quarrel has now led to action in five EU member states, writes The Financial Times on Friday. The five would like to have plans ready in the event that the UK unilaterally ignores the protocol and the atmosphere becomes even more hostile.
The countries would be more tariffs on British exports to the UK’s access to European energy supplies, and, in the worst case, the loss of the whole trade to the British people have had.