It cannot continue! EU ordered to stop ‘strict approach’ in tense Brexit row with UK
Brexit: EU is playing ‘hardball’ with Northern Ireland says Hoey
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David Jones, Tory MP for Clwyd West and deputy chairman of the European Research Group expressed concerns about how Brussels “continues to assert that its strict application” was the best way to protect the Good Friday Agreement. The Protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by the UK and Brussels, effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
This means checks on goods being sent from Great Britain into the single market – and in some cases could result in prohibitions on certain products that do not comply with EU rules.
Tense negotiations are ongoing to resolve the post-Brexit trading issues between the UK and the EU, with Lord Frost setting out proposals to amend the Protocol with a new “trusted trader” arrangement that would radically reduce the number of checks on goods.
Mr Jones said the “current state of affairs” over the Protocol “cannot continue.”
He added: “Clearly, something is needed to break the logjam. The Belfast Agreement must be protected.”
The Tory MP also backed Lord Frost’s proposal claiming it may well prove the “catalyst for a return to normal life in Northern Ireland.”
Mr Jones added: “The Command Paper is a set of proposals, not a demand.
“Predictably, the EU has responded that it will not renegotiate the Protocol, but will engage with the UK, which is a good sign.”
Meanwhile, Paul Girvan, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, claimed the Irish Government has a role in influencing the EU to reach a resolution on the trading arrangements.
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Mr Girvan also highlighted the importance of the next few weeks as a “window of opportunity” to resolve post-Brexit trading issues.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar today, he added: “The European Union has now suspended its litigation and there’s recognition that the protocol is causing harm, that there needs to be constructive engagement between the UK Government and the European Union.
“Obviously the Irish Government have a very important role in influencing how the European Union conducts its approach to addressing those issues.
“Nobody should be under any illusion as to the implications that the Protocol has had, the manner in which it was foisted upon the Unionist community and the way in which there was engagement for the European Union, where we had photographs of border posts being bombed in the 1970s in order to get the European Union on side when it came to this Protocol.
“That caused huge damage within the Unionist community, by the way in which the Irish Government at that time engaged in the process.
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“We want to see a new relationship developed after the outworkings of the UK Government and European Union engagement as a result of this command paper being published.
“We share this island. It’s in our interests for those relationships to work and to be good.”
Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar said the Protocol is an honouring of a commitment made by the UK Government to Irish people living in Northern Ireland and the Republic, that Brexit would not result in a hard border on the island.
He added at the press conference: “That is how and why the Protocol came about, a decision by the British people to leave the European Union, and a subsequent commitment by the British Government that would not result in a hard border on our island.
“Nobody in the Irish Government or the previous Irish Government has ever wanted any barriers to trade, north, south, east, west or between Britain and Northern Ireland.
“Any barriers that exist, checks or controls, are a consequence of Brexit.
“We will work constructively with the Northern Ireland Executive, with the UK Government and with the European Union, to find any way that we can to minimise any negative impacts that the Protocol may have on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and to minimise any negative impact they have on the economy in Northern Ireland.
“I think there’s a huge potential for increased exports from Northern Ireland, not just to Great Britain, but also to the European Union as a consequence of the Protocol.
“I hope when we get past this current phase in these next few months, it’ll be possible for us to focus on that.”
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