The FT reports that the EU are not happy bunnies about Boris’s plans to ‘amend’ the NI Protocol. From the article:
Brussels threatened legal action against the UK on Monday, as a chorus of criticism greeted Boris Johnson’s plan to unilaterally rip up his 2020 Brexit deal with the EU covering trade with Northern Ireland.
The British prime minister insisted that new legislation to override the Northern Ireland protocol was vital to stabilise the peace process in the region and that the changes were “relatively trivial”.
But the move was condemned in Brussels. Maroš Šefčovič, the European commissioner for Brexit, said the Commission would look at restarting a legal process frozen last year while negotiations were held on reforming the protocol.
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, said Johnson’s unilateral approach marked a “new low”, while a majority of elected members of Northern Ireland’s assembly also attacked the move.
A letter to Johnson signed by 52 out of 90 assembly members, including Sinn Féin’s first minister-elect Michelle O’Neill, rejected “in the strongest possible terms your government’s reckless new protocol legislation”.
The Northern Ireland protocol bill, published on Monday, aims to remove most checks on trade in goods from Great Britain to NI at Irish Sea ports, helping to erase the internal trade border that infuriates pro-UK unionists.
Goods destined to stay in NI would pass through a green channel with no checks, while only GB goods intended for onward travel to the Republic of Ireland and the EU single market would go through a “red lane”.
If the UK refuses to pay and comply with its judgment, the EU could end parts of its post-Brexit trade deal, applying tariffs to British goods. Brussels has already indicated it will exclude British scientists from the €95bn Horizon Europe research project, in its first economic reprisal.
Johnson said a trade war between the UK and the EU would be a “gross, gross overreaction”. He added: “All we are trying to do is simplify things, trying to remove barriers to trade to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
I am no Katy Hayward so my understanding of this issue is very superficial. While I voted against Brexit I must admit some of the trade restrictions do seem a little silly. If they can tweak it to make life a bit easier all round, it seems fair enough to me.
While the EU may huff and puff I imagine they have enough on their plate with Ukraine to worry about shortbread, chicken sandwiches or whatever the hysteria of the week is.
Will the changes be enough to placate Unionists and get the DUP back into the Assembly? Probably not…
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