Thursday, 27 Jan 2022

‘EU is the problem!’ Sefcovic warning to UK and Switzerland show bloc’s true colours

EU’s reaction to triggering of Article 16 discussed by Parker

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European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič has warned the entire UK-EU Brexit deal could collapse if the UK decided to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol. In separate negotiations, he told Swiss officials to demonstrate a “political commitment” to talking to the bloc in order to ensure that relations remain positive.

Northern Ireland Conservative Aaron Rankin suggested the EU should stop blaming others for negotiation failures and focus on considering the implications of its own actions instead.

In a post on Twitter, he wrote: “The EU says it will terminate relations with the UK if the latter exercises its rights under a mutually agreed treaty.

“It is also saying relations with Switzerland may break down if it doesn’t submit to Brussels’s laws.

“Has it occurred to the EU that maybe they’re the problem?”

In his latest threat to the UK, Mr Šefčovič warned that “the system collapses” without the Protocol.

Quoted in POLITICO, he said warnings from the UK Government that it could trigger Article 16 “are an enormously disruptive element in negotiations”.

Triggering Article 16 would allow for parts of the Protocol to be ignored if their impact on daily life was severe.

The Commission Vice President added: “You try to achieve something together, and – boom – there’s the threat of Article 16 again.

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“That goes to the heart of our relationship.”

UK negotiators view the position of the European Court of Justice as an overseer of whether trade is taking place in accordance with EU law as a major sticking point.

The EU appears unwilling to back down on this front, which has become a source of tension on the negotiation table.

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But Mr Šefčovič insisted: “Without the protocol, the system collapses.

“We must prevent that at all costs.”

Separately, Mr Šefčovič said the onus is on Switzerland, not the EU, to show an interest in discussing updating the deals between the two sides.

He suggested that Switzerland will not be punished with “negative measures” if talks are not taken up.

But he singled that relations would likely take a downwards turn.

The Slovak politician said “First of all, we needed a political commitment from the Swiss Government that it is serious about talking to us” on a range of issues.

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