Sunday, 28 Nov 2021

EU on warpath with UK: Warning of ‘robust’ retaliation as Frost set to reject demands

Brexit: EU aiming to 'cause pain' through reprisals says expert

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Amid the UK’s threat to unilaterally suspends part of the Brexit deal, diplomats have ordered the Commission to hit the UK “hard”. Although the relations with the UK may collapse over the Brexit deal, diplomats have claimed the EU’s “credibility is at stake”. The EU has not revealed what action it will take against the UK but during a meeting of ambassadors on Wednesday, officials insisted “robust and proportionate” legal action must be put in place in response to Britain.

If the EU does not strike back at the UK, EU officials claimed other states may see the bloc as weak going forward.

One diplomat told Politico: “If the UK takes us for a ride and we don’t react appropriately, we risk that other countries like China draw a dangerous conclusion from it — that we may not be willing to enforce the other side’s commitments in our agreements.”

Another said: “We need to be ready to hit hard. Our credibility is at stake.”

Rolling talks have taken place between Lord Frost and Maros Sefcovic and will continue again on Friday.

Mr Sefcovic has stressed prior to Friday’s meeting, the UK has failed to offer any concessions to the Northern Ireland protocol.

In contrast, Mr Sefcovic claimed the EU has offered a substantial package that would cut a number of checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Lord Frost, however, has insisted the proposals do not go far enough in easing issues to trade in Northern Ireland.

Instead, Lord Frost wants Northern Ireland to be treated as a part of the UK and therefore remove the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

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If the EU fails to do so, it is thought the UK Government may trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol following the COP26 summit.

In October, Lord Frost said removing the oversight of the ECJ would be key in unlocking the deadlock between the two sides.

He said during a speech in Lisbon: “The role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland and the consequent inability of the UK government to implement the very sensitive arrangements in the protocol in a reasonable way has created a deep imbalance in the way the protocol operates.

“Without new arrangements in this area, the protocol will never have the support it needs to survive.”

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Article 16 allows either side the ability to unilaterally suspends parts of the deal if it has caused societal or economic harm.

The UK claims the threshold to trigger Article 16 has been met and will use it if the EU does not offer a solution.

Although Lord Frost said using Article 16 was on the table last week, he claimed there is still time to agree on alterations to the protocol.

He said: “In my view, this process of negotiations has not reached its end.

“Although we have been talking for nearly four weeks, there remain possibilities that the talks have not yet seriously examined, including many approaches suggested by the UK

“So there is more to do and I certainly will not give up on this process unless and until it is abundantly clear that nothing more can be done.

“We are certainly not at that point yet.”

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