In order to resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute, the European Union must go beyond lifting the ban on British sausages, warns Brexit Minister Lord Frost.
In a speech in Portugal on Tuesday, the peer will call for “significant” changes to the post-Brexit agreement it has negotiated, including the role of the European Court of Justice.
His warning comes a day before the EU is expected to come up with plans to resolve the problems with the protocol that have created economic barriers between Northern Ireland and the UK.
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Brussels is likely to propose that chilled meats can cross the Irish Sea from the UK even after the current grace periods have expired to ease the so-called sausage wars.
But Lord Frost will use the Lisbon speech to warn that compromises have to go much further to address issues such as the role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.
“The EU must now show ambition and willingness to tackle the fundamental issues at the heart of the protocol directly,” he is expected to tell the diplomatic community.
“The Commission was too quick to dismiss governance as a minor matter. The reality is the opposite.
“The role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland and the consequent inability of the UK Government to properly implement the very sensitive provisions of the Protocol has created a deep imbalance in the way the Protocol works.
“Without new agreements in this area, the protocol will never have the support it needs to survive.”
Ireland’s Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney asked whether British ministers “want an agreed path forward or another breakdown in relations?”
“The EU is working seriously to solve practical problems in implementing the protocol – so the UKG (government) is creating a new ‘red line’ barrier to progress that they know the EU cannot go on … we are he tweeted.
A government source threatened that Britain would trigger Article 16 of the Protocol – which effectively suspends parts of the deal – if EU proposals amount to “tinkering on the sidelines”.
The protocol was negotiated to avoid a hard border with Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
However, trade unionists have been pushing for it to be removed because of the trade barriers it has created for products crossing the Irish Sea from the UK.
Lord Frost will also be sharing new legal text with the European Commission this week to propose the “basis” for a new protocol in support of the Good Friday Agreement.
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