The European Union (EU) warned the United Kingdom on Friday (5) that the suspension of the post-Brexit trade agreement in Northern Ireland would have “severe consequences” on relations between former allies.
Amid British threats to suspend the deal, the two sides held a new round of high-level talks on Friday to resolve tensions arising from the use of the protocol in Northern Ireland.
After Brexit’s shocking divorce, London and Brussels signed an agreement on their trade relationship with Ireland at the end of 2020 with a special mechanism, which immediately began to create problems.
In this controversy, the EU relaxed restrictions, but British officials insisted that Article 16 of the treaty could be implemented if there were no further concessions, giving the parties the power to suspend the terms of the treaty.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefkovic held a meeting with British Brexit Minister David Frost in Brussels today.
Coming to the meeting, Frost said Britain did not want to implement the 16th Amendment right now, but said the option was “on the table”.
At the end of the meeting, Sefcovic warned directly, “Implementing Section 16 to force a re-negotiation of the protocol will no doubt have serious consequences.”
Such action would be “serious for Northern Ireland because it would create instability and unpredictability”, and for relations between London and Brussels it would “reject the EU’s efforts to find a consensus path,” Chefkovic said. .
– ‘Disappointment’ –
According to Sefcovic, the EU has already made concessions, “but to date we have not seen any movement from the UK. It is disappointing and I urge the UK government to work honestly with us,” he said.
In turn, a British government source in London announced at a meeting on Friday that Frost had expressed his confidence in Chefkovic that “EU proposals do not effectively address fundamental difficulties in the implementation of the protocol.”
Therefore, Frost, who arrived at the meeting place in Brussels today, told reporters that there were still “significant differences” in the talks.
In this context, a European ambassador to the Belgian capital noted that the EU was already moving ahead with preparations for the London trial to implement Rule 16, but warned that there would be a “strong reaction” from Europe.
This reaction, according to the source, could even lead to the complete termination of the trade agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, which is a breakdown scenario with unpredictable economic consequences.
Chefkov and Frost will meet again in London next week, another attempt to avoid division.
At the same time, the UK and France have been locked in a bitter dispute over fishing rights, another co-occurrence of agreements between London and Brussels.
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