The European Union on Wednesday offered the United Kingdom a package of measures aimed at easing the trade regime for goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland, Reuters reports. Despite attempts to ease the situation, it is unlikely that the measures will be sufficient for the United Kingdom, which would like a renegotiation of the entire protocol.
The European Commission says the new measures it is proposing will halve waiting times for customs bureaucracy and eliminate 80% of controls on meat, cheese and other food entering Northern Ireland from the UK. The new measures, however, ensure the entry of drugs without barriers.
“We have overturned and turned the rules upside down to find a solution,” European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said of the drug proposal.
The situation in Northern Ireland became extremely complicated after Brexit – the British province remained under the rules of the European single market, to avoid the emergence of a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which would have called into question the peace resulting from the Belfast Agreement. since 1998.
Northern Ireland’s stay in the single market, however, created a customs border between the province and the rest of the United Kingdom, with trade between the Kingdom and the province governed by the Northern Ireland protocol to the Brexit agreement between the EU and the UK. For this reason, the London government has repeatedly called for a revision of the protocol for Northern Ireland in the Brexit agreement.
This arrangement disrupted the territory’s supply and the economic situation of the province, but it also aroused dissatisfaction in the unionist community, loyal to the British state, in Northern Ireland.
Recently, the United Kingdom has threatened to activate the “security measures” in the Protocol, the so-called Article 16, whereby the parties may unilaterally denounce parts of the Protocol if they adversely affect them.
London demands that British goods destined for the province, and not the European market, be able to access it “almost” without customs controls. The British government also wants its rules, and not just those of the EU, to be accepted there so that goods can move without restrictions.
The EU has previously rejected such measures, calling them a threat to the integrity of its market, due to a lack of a physical border and control between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland.
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Sefcovic says the new proposals solve the problem and meet all objectives, keeping Northern Ireland’s border with Ireland open – “This alternative implementation of the protocol also solves the sausage problem,” he said, referring to the so-called “sausage war.” triggered by European bans on certain meat products, which due to the protocol can no longer be delivered to Northern Ireland either. Sefcovic added that Northern Irish people will be able to access the sausages they prefer.
The European official also said that the package of measures must be the foundation of a joint agreement with the UK, but that there will be no further proposal if this package is rejected by the British.
The Commission added that in return for these concessions, the EU wants wider product control and labeling measures to ensure that British products do not enter the European market illegally through the “Northern Irish back door”.
Editor: Adrian Dumitru