“We will not accept a renegotiation of the protocol,” Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission, said in a statement.
The rejection came after a new British ‘command paper’ insisted the deal – hailed as ‘a fantastic deal’ by Boris Johnson, when Brexit was sealed in 2019 – must be frozen and drastically revamped.
The demands include the complete abandonment of trade controls of the Irish Sea – which are due to begin in October, when the ‘grace periods’ expire – and that Brussels suspend legal actions for failure to enforce existing conditions.
The UK also wants the protocol “no longer to be vetted by EU institutions and courts” – the foundation for ensuring London can be punished for non-compliance, in the eyes of the EU.
And a so-called “honesty box” approach should allow goods “meeting British and European standards to circulate” in Northern Ireland, argued Brexit Minister David Frost.
Checks would only be carried out on goods destined for final destination in the Republic of Ireland – a dual-standard regime long rejected by the EU for fear that it would damage its single market.
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Stressing the overriding need to protect the “integrity” of the single market, he added: “For these objectives to be achieved, the Protocol must be implemented. “
David McAllister, chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, pointed to the gulf across the Channel, saying the EU would not allow the deal to be “undermined”.
“The protocol was painstakingly negotiated under strong political pressure, ensuring that disruption is minimized and helping local communities and businesses. It cannot be renegotiated, ”he said.
And Simon Coveney, the Irish Foreign Minister, insisted: “Any solution must take place within the framework of the Protocol and the principles underlying it.