Sunday, 28 Nov 2021

‘BIG political mistake’ Coveney warns EU will respond ‘robustly’ to triggering Article 16

Lord Frost discusses the deadline for invoking Article 16

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After agreeing to the Northern Ireland Protocol in 2019, Boris Johnson is now requesting to remove the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from taking any role in adjudicating disputes over the Irish border. Simon Coveney, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defense, said during an interview that the move would undoubtedly be “a big political mistake” for the British Prime Minister.

Mr Coveney made his remarks in an interview with former RTÉ journalist Seán O’Rourke on the last day of the MacGill Summer School forum.

He said: “It would be a big political mistake because I think the EU will respond very robustly.”

“I don’t believe the EU will allow a British government to act unilaterally to break international law and to make Ireland the victim of all of that by calling into question our place in the EU and its single market.”

Simon Coveney previously accused the British Government of “shifting the playing field” away from solving issues around the controversial protocol.

“Each time that the European Union comes forward with new ideas and new proposals to try and solve problems, they are dismissed before they are released, and that’s happening again this week,” Mr Coveney said.

On Twitter, he argued that the British Government has created a new “red line” over the ECJ.

The Irish Minister also said the EU has shown flexibility on the protocol and if the UK government acted unilaterally on that, the EU view would be they are “not an honest partner in trying to find common ground.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the UK had signed up to the deals in “good faith” but the way they were being operated by the EU was unsustainable.

“It was formed in the spirit of compromise in challenging circumstances,” the spokesman said.

“Since then we have seen how the EU is inclined to operate the governance arrangements, issuing infraction proceedings against the UK at the first sign of disagreement.

“These arrangements aren’t sustainable, we need to find a new way of resolving issues that arise between us using mechanisms normal in other international treaties.

“It is unheard of for bilateral agreements being policed by the courts of one of the parties.”

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The Prime Minister recently said “all the conditions have been met” to trigger Article 16.

Brexit Secretary Lord David Frost has already begun communicating with Tory MPs to brief them on the situation and gather their support in the event the Government does trigger Article 16.

One MP said Lord Frost was sure that the Government was confident in how it is dealing with the EU.

The MP told Sky News: “The message was: trust us. He was saying please keep your head down on the issue and don’t interfere, arguing they did Brexit so they know what they’re doing.

“He pointed out that the Irish are in a difficult position, as are the French and the Germans don’t have a government.”

The EU has already rejected calls for a new Protocol to be drafted.

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