London 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 problems identified in the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The reaction from Brussels 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 proceeding 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 deal requested by London.
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 the EU member, Ireland. 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 Brussels has accused the British of blocking.
The protocol is particularly problematic with regard to foods of animal origin. Therefore, the British press called the dispute the “sausage war”. Meat and sausage products from Great Britain should not have been brought to Northern Ireland since July. 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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Plus: Great Britain considers the Northern Ireland Protocol in its current form unfeasible and wants to renegotiate it. The country is therefore on a collision course with the EU, again.
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