EU ready to issue final Brexit ultimatum over border row as ‘patience wearing thin’

Edwin Poots on legal action against Northern Ireland Protocol

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Lord Frost has demanded significant changes be made to the Northern Ireland Protocol, an element of the deal he negotiated, as he said “we cannot go on as we are”. Negotiations are ongoing to resolve the post-Brexit trading issues with the Brexit minister setting out the proposals in the House of Lords last month.

But the Fine Gael Irish MEP claims the UK’s plans would amount to a renegotiation of around half of the Protocol, which he branded as “not acceptable” due to the removal of certain EU authority in Northern Ireland.

Mr Kelly added: “This clearly is not acceptable, especially as it includes known EU red lines such as the removal of the European Court of Justice jurisdiction from single market matters in Northern Ireland, a reason many member states signed up to the protocol in the first place.

“However, it is cruelly ironic that the British proposals necessitate a high level of trust among parties while they act in a way to denigrate it.”

The Protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by the UK and Brussels, effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

This means checks on goods being sent from Great Britain into the single market in some cases could result in prohibitions on certain products that do not comply with EU rules.

Mr Kelly said Brussels was hoping for positions to be “bridged” by September following the UK and EU Parliament recess and breaks.

He stressed: “This will be no easy task, but the EU and the Irish government remain consistent, we will seek creative and flexible solutions within the framework of the protocol.”

The MEP, who has represented the Ireland South constituency since July 2009 also hinted there had been “erosion of trust” between London and Brussels in recent weeks over the arrangements.

This, he stressed, had given the EU “less incentive to move forward in areas of cooperation where interest is primarily on the British side, such as financial services”.

Looking forward, Mr Kelly made clear the European Parliament would have a “big role to play” in ensuring robust negotiations and detailed scrutiny of the Command Paper.

He concluded: “As chair of the UK Monitoring Group, I will be leading my colleagues in monitoring all aspects relevant to trade at a granular level.

“The unity of position within the EU seems to have come as a surprise to Johnson.

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“In the EU, we are rightly proud of this unity, and it is often cited as an example of cohesion in the face of fundamental challenges.

“This is exemplified in the European Parliament, with MEPs from all political groups and backgrounds condemning unilateral actions by the UK government on the Northern Ireland protocol.

“After years of erratic politics, fickle promises and cliff edges around Brexit, patience has truly worn thin.”

In response, a UK Government source said they wereengaging in talks” with the EU to “progress the command paper proposals.”

They added: “It’s clear significant changes are needed to ensure the Northern Ireland Protocol is sustainable for the future.”


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