Treaty troubles over Northern Ireland
October 11, 2021 - The UK and the EU are edging closer to a trade war after Brussels rejected London’s demands to rewrite the Brexit deal’s contentious Northern Ireland Protocol.
On Tuesday, the UK’s Brexit minister Lord David Frost will seek “a significant change” to the protocol, which governs trade flows with Ireland after Britain left the EU.
“No one should be in any doubt about the seriousness of the situation,” Frost said in the text of a speech to be given in Lisbon.
Britain crucially wants the EU to reduce the scope of border controls on goods shipped into Northern Ireland from England, Scotland and Wales and demands the removal of oversight of the protocol by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Maros Sefcovic, the EU Brexit chief, has ruled out renegotiating the protocol -- the ECJ’s role is a “red line” for Brussels.
Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, the British province remains within the EU Single Market for Goods. The protocol applies EU rules on imports from the UK, including Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks on all products of animal origin, live animals, fish and plants.
Extensive SPS checks have resulted in UK food and drink exports to the EU plunging in the year to June 2021. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) figures show EU sales dropped by 47%.
On Wednesday, Sefcovic will publish proposals to drop many checks on goods deemed unlikely to leak from Northern Ireland into the EU single market via the Republic of Ireland.