Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the British government’s demands for changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol could “collapse” Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
Coveney thus referred to the issue raised by the British government of the lifting of the supervision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), also known as the European Court of Justice (ECJ), over the protocol. He stated that this was the creation of a new “red line” which the EU must not cross.
The EU will present on Wednesday proposals to reform the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit Agreement. The EU’s proposals are intended to focus on alleviating practical problems with the flow of goods from the United Kingdom (ie England, Scotland and Wales) to Northern Ireland, and not on changing its supervision arrangements.
Excerpt from the speech of the minister responsible for Brexit
On Tuesday, however, David Frost, the minister responsible for the implementation of the Brexit agreement and relations with the EU, will deliver a speech in which he is expected to tell diplomats that excluding the ECJ from dispute settlement is necessary to uphold the protocol.
The British government released an excerpt from the speech to be delivered by Frost on Saturday night. “The role of the ECJ in Northern Ireland and the consequent inability of the British government to reasonably implement the very sensitive provisions of the protocol have 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” say Frost.
Coveney: Does the British government really want the agreed way?
According to the protocol, Northern Ireland remained on the single EU market in the field of trade in goods, and according to EU law, the interpretation of its rules is dealt with by the ECJ. In 2019, the UK agreed to retain the role of the ECJ, but in July of this year, the UK government said it did so only because of the “very special circumstances” of the protocol negotiations. Now he wants a new governance agreement whereby disputes are finally settled by an independent arbitrator.
Coveney suggested on Twitter that the UK position would not help solve practical problems. “The EU is working seriously to resolve practical implementation problems – so the UK government is creating a new ‘red line’ barrier to progress, although it knows the EU cannot cross it … are we surprised? Does the UK government really want an agreed way forward? or a further breakdown in relations? ” – he wrote.
Frost later wrote back to Coveney on social media that he would prefer “not to negotiate on Twitter,” but noted that “the governance and ETS issue is not new.” “We presented our concerns three months ago in a July 21 paper. The problem is that too few people seem to be listening,” he wrote.
The position of the EU is that maintaining Northern Ireland in the single market for goods is not possible without ECJ supervision. This was repeated this week by European Commission vice-president Marosz Szefczovicz, saying: “It’s hard for me to see how Northern Ireland would or would have maintained access to the single market without the supervision of the European Court of Justice.”
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