Northern Ireland: Frost calls on EU to 'look at the real world'
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The UK’s former chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost has called on Brussels to “look at the real world” as the UK government attempts to re-negotiate the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol. Boris Johnson’s ministers have this week presented a planned bill that would give the Government powers to unilaterally alter aspects of the trading rules governing GB-NI trade. The EU has condemned the development as “extremely damaging.”
Lord Frost told Good Moring Ulster: “The Good Friday agreement doesn’t mention trade as such, that’s not particularly surprising but then that argument works both ways.
“I think trade is a pretty important part of interaction and the fact that it’s being interrupted east-west is a big part of the problem and that’s just the reality.
“The protocol’s intention was to support the Good Friday Agreement that’s what we wrote it to do, as well.
“We improved it over its predecessor, but it obviously isn’t doing that and I think the best thing the EU could do would be to look at the real world and try and adjust to the situation.”
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It comes as the EU has announced fresh legal action against the UK as part of a series of measures in response to the Government’s move to unilaterally scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The European Commission is also resuming legal proceedings against the UK which were shelved last year to facilitate negotiations on the post-Brexit trade.
The EU has described the legal steps as a “proportionate” response to the Government’s tabling of domestic legislation which would give ministers the power to axe large parts of the deal governing the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
The bloc has insisted its “door remains open” for talks with the UK to find an agreed resolution to the furore over the so-called Irish Sea border.
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The stalled legal action related to the UK’s unilateral extension of protocol grace periods in 2021.
Resuming the proceedings, the EU is issuing the UK with a “reasoned opinion” and giving it two months to respond.
If the UK does not respond to the bloc’s satisfaction, it will refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
The two new infringement proceedings announced on Wednesday relate to alleged UK failures around Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks on agri-food produce entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
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The EU is issuing formal notices of action in respect of the two new infringement proceedings, alleging that the SPS checks are not being carried out properly, with insufficient staff and infrastructure in place at the border control posts at the ports in Northern Ireland.
The procedures outlined on Wednesday do not specifically relate to the content of the Government’s controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
The EU said any potential proceedings over the Bill would only happen when it was enacted at Westminster.
Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the Bill is “extremely damaging to mutual trust and respect between the EU and the UK”.
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