EU tells UK it will not renegotiate terms of Northern Ireland’s Brexit deal

T

he European Union has warned the UK it will not renegotiate the deal on Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements after Lord Frost demanded significant changes to the terms.

Brexit minister Lord Frost said “we cannot go on as we are” but held back – for now – from taking the dramatic step of effectively suspending parts of the deal, even though he claimed the UK would be justified to do so.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hit out at the “inflexible” approach of the EU in implementing the agreement he signed but said there was an “opportunity to proceed differently”.

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 – and in some cases could result in prohibitions on certain products that do not comply with EU rules.

The protocol was put in place to ensure there would be no hard border with Ireland, but it has instead effectively placed a trade barrier in the Irish Sea.

Lord Frost said a “new balance” in the arrangements was needed.

He told peers: “We urge the EU to look at it with fresh eyes and to work with us to seize this opportunity and to put our relationships on to a better footing. We stand ready to work with them to deliver the brighter future which is in reach.”

We are ready to continue to seek creative solutions, within the framework of the protocol, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland. However, we will not agree to a renegotiation of the protocol

The proposals published by the Government include:

– An “evidence-based and targeted approach” to goods at risk of entering the single market, but products destined just for Northern Ireland would be allowed to circulate “near-freely”.

– Continued access in Northern Ireland to goods from the rest of the UK, through a regulatory approach which accepts both British and European Union standards.

– A “normal” treaty framework to govern the arrangements, with no role for the Court of Justice.

One idea put forward would be for UK traders to declare whether the final destination for their goods was Northern Ireland or the Republic.

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