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Montevideo, September 26th 2023 - 11:52 UTC



Changes to Northern Ireland Protocol by London could lead to a trade war, warns Brussels

Wednesday, May 18th 2022 - 09:26 UTC
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EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic, Brussels' top Brexit official, said ”unilateral actions contradicting an international agreement, and law, are not acceptable''. EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic, Brussels' top Brexit official, said ”unilateral actions contradicting an international agreement, and law, are not acceptable''.

The European Union has announced that it will respond with all measures at its disposal if the British government pushes ahead with unilateral changes to the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland. UK has said it wants to change the legally binding treaty that it signed less than two years ago.

EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who is Brussels' top Brexit official, said the UK announcement “raised significant concerns.” adding that “unilateral actions contradicting an international agreement, and international law, are not acceptable''.

In such an event EU would ”need to respond with all measures at its disposal'' if Britain passes a law to scrap parts of the post-Brexit trade treaty, Sefcovic underlined.

The UK has said it might suspend the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, something the EU has warned could lead to a wider trade war.

However, Sefcovic also said the EU response could explore ways to improve the situation with “flexibilities” proposed by the European Commission. “They can deliver a real difference on the ground,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the government was planning a new law to effectively override parts of the Brexit deal.

In a statement to parliament, Truss said planned legislation would ease the movement of goods, apply Britain's tax regime in Northern Ireland and giving London more say over laws in the province.

She told lawmakers the legislation would not break international law and that London would work with Brussels to find a negotiated solution. ”Our preference is to reach a negotiated outcome with the EU,'' Truss said.

The Northern Ireland protocol is part of the UK's Brexit deal with the EU. It lays out a system of rules which governs trade in Northern Ireland since the UK left the EU. It was devised as a means of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, allowing Northern Ireland to remain in the EU's single market.

Ireland's open border, and the rights of people on either side of it to seek whichever citizenship they prefer and to move freely between the two sides, were core components of the Good Friday peace accord.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson travelled to Belfast on Monday, seeking to convince local politicians to form a government in the wake of the recent elections.

Earlier this month, Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein which wants a unified Ireland under Dublin, won the most seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the first time a party that seeks union with the Republic of Ireland has won an election there.

The Democratic Unionist Party, protestant and pro UK, came in second but is refusing to allow the assembly to sit until the UK government scraps post-Brexit checks that are part of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • Pugol-H

    Sefcovic cannot ‘negotiate’ about anything that would make a difference, his mandate doesn’t allow for it.

    As Brussels will not change the mandate, there is only one way this can go.

    Remains to be seen how keen countries like Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Romania are going to be about the EU getting into another war, this time with Britain.

    May 18th, 2022 - 03:04 pm 0
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