In reality, trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK should be monitored from the end of the month. Now the UK is postponing the deadline again. The EU is reacting with a cold.
The British government wants to unilaterally postpone the application of the Brexit rules to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country again. Brexit Minister David Frost announced this in a statement to the House of Lords on Monday night. Grace periods, which actually expire at the end of the month, will be extended, as Frost wrote. This should create the space for ongoing technical discussions with the EU. The aim is to develop a “constructive process” to address the issues that have been identified in the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The EU reaction was cold. It is an international agreement to which all parties are legally bound, according to a statement from the EU Commission. However, they do not want to initiate further legal action at the moment. Even an ongoing infringement procedure should not continue for the time being, he said. The focus is on finding practical solutions to implement the protocol. The EU Commission ruled out a renegotiation of the agreement requested by London.
EU accuses British blockade
The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit Agreement and aims to ensure that border controls are not necessary between Northern Ireland, which belongs to the United Kingdom, and Ireland, a member of the EU. An open border between the two parts of the Irish island is a prerequisite for maintaining the fragile peace in the former civil war region.
Instead, controls must now be carried out when goods are brought from England, Scotland or Wales to Northern Ireland. That creates difficulties for which both parties hold each other accountable. In London it is said that the protocol cannot be implemented, but the EU is accusing the British of blocking.
The protocol is particularly problematic with regard to foods of animal origin. The British press therefore called the dispute “the sausage war.” Since July it should not have been allowed to bring meat products and sausages from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. But both parties agreed at that time to extend the grace period until the end of September; London now wants to extend it again.
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