Fri. Mar 31st, 2023


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Brexit trigger move: Boris’ huge five-point route to rip up hated EU deal exposed

3 min read

Germany slams UK for breaching Brexit agreement

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Brexit Britain and the EU have been at loggerheads over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the mechanism that oversees trading arrangements in the province. The UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost has repeated his desire to overhaul large parts of the Protocol, claiming it simply hasn’t worked since Britain formally departed the EU on January 1. He has pushed for is the removal of the European Count of Justice (ECJ) from the agreement, which would in effect act as a referee between the two sides in any future disputes.

But Brussels is refusing to back down, only presenting a range of proposals last month that fell well short of what the UK was demanding.

Talks on the Protocol have failed to find a breakthrough, leading Lord Frost to repeat threats over triggering Article 16, suggesting this could happen imminently.

The EU has warned this would be met with fierce retaliation, raising fears of a potentially destructive trade war.

Catherine Barnard, Professor of European & Employment Law, University of Cambridge, warned the UK could terminate five key elements of the Protocol when deciding to invoke Article 16, but in doing so would be taking a huge risk.

When asked what short and long-term impact the triggering of Article 16 could have, she told “In the short term, none at all because there is a process of consultation which has to be gone through which will last a month.

“In the medium term, it depends on what the UK decides to do.

“If the answer is small changes about requiring documents to be submitted before goods go into Northern Ireland, it will not be significant.

“If, on the other hand, the UK decides to terminate Article 5-7, 10 and 12 of the Protocol, that will be much more serious and we can expect the EU to retaliate strongly.”

The five key elements of the Protocol referred to by Professor Barnard are: Customs, movement of goods (Article 5); Protection of the UK internal market (Article 6); Technical regulations, assessments, registrations, certificates, approvals and authorisations (Article 7); State aid (Article 10); and Implementation, application, supervision and enforcement (Article 12).

Following the latest round of talks with the UK in Brussels last Friday, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, welcomed a change of tone from the British side and called for that to translate into compromise.

During an interview with the BBC two days later the EU official insisted progress had been made in the talks on post-Brexit trade issues affecting Northern Ireland, insisting solutions can be found if the UK redoubles its efforts

He said: “We had some progress on Friday.

“I’m sure that if Lord Frost and the UK would double their efforts, we can resolve all the outstanding issues to the satisfaction of the people of Northern Ireland.”

But just 24 hours later, Downing Street warned the UK is still ready to consider tearing up elements of Northern Ireland’s Brexit deal.

Number 10 insisted there is no timetable for whether or not it would unilaterally use the powers under Article 16 if changes to the deal cannot be agreed with the EU.

A spokesman said: “Our preference remains to agree a negotiated solution if we can.

“Of course, we will use Article 16, the safety mechanism, if solutions can’t be found.”

Asked whether the UK would be willing to use it before Christmas, the spokesman added: “I’m not going to put a timetable on it.

“We continue to believe that the conditions for triggering that safety mechanism of Article 16 have been met.

“That remains the Government position but we will continue to look for a consensual negotiated solution.”

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