Boris Johnson has rejected Brussels’ latest attempt to iron out problems with post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland, insisting that the withdrawal agreement signed last year must be renegotiated.
A series of proposals released by the European Commission on Monday aimed at facilitating the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol were deemed insufficient given the scale of the problems.
A spokesperson for the UK government said the two sides needed “comprehensive and lasting solutions” instead. David Frost, the minister responsible for Brexit issues, said without major changes to the legal text of the protocol, the government would consider triggering Article 16 of the EU-UK deal to suspend parts of the deal .
Such an approach would be authorized if it can be demonstrated that “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties” arise. But the commission would likely challenge such a decision. He would be likely to go to arbitration, which would increase the risk of trade sanctions eventually.
The government last week released an order document detailing the main changes it wants to make to the arrangements under which Northern Ireland effectively remains in the EU’s single market and bloc’s customs rules are enforced on them. goods crossing the Irish Sea.
The UK government spokesperson said it was only by responding to Downing Street’s demands that issues linked to a range of issues, which have sparked political instability and violence in Northern Ireland in recent months , could be solved.
However, he said what the EU was proposing was “only a small subset of the many difficulties caused by the operation of the protocol”.
“We need comprehensive and sustainable solutions if we are to avoid further disruption of daily life in Northern Ireland,” he added.
The UK’s outright rejection on Monday of the committee’s overtures on some of the difficult issues, including the flow of medicine from Britain to Northern Ireland and the movement of guide dogs and cattle, still places the two parts on a collision course.
A series of grace periods are due to end in October and January next year, while the commission insisted it not rewrite the legal text agreed with Johnson in 2019.
Lord Frost insisted that he sincerely wanted the protocol to succeed, but that he could not envision a situation that would win the support of all communities in Northern Ireland without further negotiation on the text. The command document released last week suggested that political pressure in 2019 forced the government to accept the protocol and sign it in 2020.
Loyalist groups have claimed the protocol undermines their British identity by creating barriers to trade within the UK.
The commission suggested he rewrite his own laws to allow UK regulators to approve drugs destined for Northern Ireland – but strictly on the basis that they would implement EU law.
A spokesperson for the UK government said the proposal was still insufficient. “The EU’s proposal was a good start, but it would be complex to operate, expensive and would not address at all such drugs, such as new cancer drugs, which under current arrangements must be authorized by the European Medicines Agency in Northern Ireland, ”he said.