We are at a crossroads in relationship with UK — EU's Šefčovič

09 Juin, 2021, 17:35 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Coronavirus vaccines in NI

Maros Sefcovic, the commission vice president, called on the British government to respect "its global law obligations", saying Brussels would "not be shy" to respond to any unilateral action from London.

Since then, London and Brussels have been trading on new terms, with the protocol effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU customs union and single market for goods.

"We are at a crossroads in relationship with the United Kingdom".

Mr Sefcovic said the current Northern Ireland Protocol was the "best solution" to "the type of Brexit that the current UK Government chose".

"When I meet Maros Sefcovic later today my message will be clear: time is short and practical solutions are needed now to make the Protocol work", he said.

Following hours of talks, Lord Frost said they had had a "frank and honest discussion" but that there had been "no breakthroughs" over the Northern Ireland Protocol in the agreement.

"And I think all sides are willing to do so and I'd be hopeful that there will be a solution found there, but there still is more work to be done".

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But the port checks on deliveries heading into Northern Ireland from mainland Great Britain - England, Scotland and Wales - have caused consternation in unionist communities, which maintain this changes their place in the wider UK.

Ahead of the talks Lord Frost warned that time was running out to reach agreement and called on the European Union to adopt a "common sense" approach to checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

It has raised the prospect of a trade war, with Brussels imposing tariffs and quotas on British exports, if the United Kingdom fails to meet its obligations under the protocol.

But it is sowing discontent in the province, particularly among unionists, who see port checks as a threat to Northern Ireland's status as part of the UK.

Sefcovic's comments come ahead of crunch meetings in London tomorrow with Brexit minister David Frost, and follow weeks of sniping about the protocol. The UK angered Brussels earlier this year when it unilaterally extended the grace period covering many supermarket items, delaying the required inspections for six months.

On the issue of potential restrictions on medicine supplies into Northern Ireland from Great Britain when a grace period ends at the end of 2021, Ms O'Neill said: "We discussed in particular the issue of medicines, which is important that we find a solution there".

Brexit: what is the Northern Ireland row about? Maros Sefcovic, the EU's chief negotiator, cautioned against such action, saying the two sides should strive to achieve "mutually agreed compliance paths". "There's no case whatsoever for preventing chilled meats from being sold in Northern Ireland", said Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman, Max Blain.

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