Everyone saw it coming. So Theresa May’s agreement with the EU was another. That is why that British Government, overthrown by the hard wing of the Conservative Party led by Boris Johnson, agreed to the remembered backstop, which meant that Brexit was less harsh and the UK remained in the EU customs union – although not in the single market. But that was little Brexit for Johnson and his people. And they took May down and demanded a new protocol for Northern Ireland, which leads, de facto, to what the Irish Sea becomes a border with Great Britain and that comes to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom. And to install customs controls in Northern Ireland because, afterwards, there is no border with the Republic of Ireland under the Good Friday Peace Accords.
Y now the British Government does not stop hitting reality and challenging the agreement signed by Johnson himself: the customs controls are slow; the Unionists, traditional allies of the British Conservative Party, are on the warpath; the worst ghosts of the past return to Ireland; tensions with the EU marked the G7 meeting in Cornwall with pressure from Joe Biden on Johnson including … and does not stop unilaterally extending moratoriums on customs controls, among them that of fresh meats, unleashing wars like that of sausages.
Why? Because the Irish protocol, the fruit of Johnson’s efforts, creates so many problems that it is not being applied.
While, Brussels and London try to negotiate a way out but the solution is complicated because the protocol says what it says. Thus, the British government this Wednesday threatens not to comply with it unless it is modified. Namely, threatens to skip the Brexit deal, which it already did at the end of last year with the British Internal Market bill, which was finally modified so as not to violate the Brexit agreement in what had to do with the aforementioned Northern Ireland protocol.
Indeed, in a 28-page document distributed this Wednesday, Johnson’s Government states: “The Protocol is not standing still, but significant changes are needed to achieve a sustainable ‘new balance’ that puts the relationship between the UK and the EU on a stable footing. This is the only way to ensure the Belfast Agreement (Holy Friday). The Government has published today, Wednesday, July 21, a Command Paper stating that you are trying to negotiate significant changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol, and describing how the Protocol is failing to meet some of its core objectives of minimizing disruptions to everyday life, respecting Northern Ireland’s place in the UK domestic market and preserve the delicate balance of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions. ”
The EU negotiator, Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič, has responded with a refusal to “rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol” with a note: “The Protocol on Ireland is the solution that the EU found with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Lord David Frost, and was ratified by the UK Parliament, to address the unique challenges posed by Brexit and the type of Brexit chosen by the British Government for the island of Ireland. Its aim is to protect the Good Friday Agreement (Belfast) in all its parts, maintain peace and stability in Northern Ireland, avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and preserve the integrity of the EU single market. For these objectives to be achieved, the Protocol must be implemented. Respect for international legal obligations is of the utmost importance. ”
Downing Street ensures that “The Government has tried to apply the Protocol in good faith, but the problems are significant and growing. Therefore, the Government wants to agree on a sustainable solution that strikes a new balance that better reflects the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland and meets all the objectives of the Protocol. The economic, political and cultural ties that exist East-West [Irlanda del Norte-Gran Bretaña] they must be treated with the same sensitivity as those that exist North-South. This is essential to ensure that UK-EU relations are on a stable and more positive trajectory. ”
In this sense, Johnson’s government threatens not to comply with the agreement: “The Command Paper makes it clear that the Government has considered activating Article 16 [que exime el cumplimiento del protocolo] and believes that there are clear reasons to justify its use. This option remains within the framework of the Protocol. However, we do not believe that it is beneficial for Northern Ireland to invoke safeguard measures at this time. We would prefer to seek a consensual approach with the EU, to agree on stable and lasting solutions that can work for Northern Ireland, the UK in general and the EU in the future. ”
Brussels, for his part, responds that “The EU has sought practical and flexible solutions to overcome the difficulties that the citizens of Northern Ireland are experiencing with regard to the implementation of the Protocol. For example, on June 30, the European Commission presented a package of measures to address certain pressing issues, including changing our own rules to ensure the long-term supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. We are ready to continue to seek creative solutions, within the framework of the Protocol, in the interests of all communities in Northern Ireland. However, we will not accept a renegotiation of the Protocol. We look forward to speaking with Lord Frost soon. ”
Michael Frost, Johnson’s negotiator with the EU, said: “The Protocol has not met some of its core objectives and we cannot ignore the political, social and economic difficulties that this continues to create in Northern Ireland. that is why we need a new approach based on negotiation and the search for a new and lasting consensus. ”
The British order with Northern Ireland comes 24 hours after raising problems with the European Commission’s mandate to negotiate the EU-UK agreement on Gibraltar.
“The United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Spain agreed to a pragmatic Framework Agreement, in coordination with the European Commission,” states the British Government: “And the mandate proposed by the Commission, published today, is in direct conflict with that Framework. It seeks to undermine the UK sovereignty over Gibraltar and cannot form a basis for negotiations. We have consistently demonstrated pragmatism and flexibility in seeking agreements that work for all parties, and we are disappointed that this has not been reciprocated. We urge the EU to rethink it. ”
And what is the problem in the UK? That the agreement with Spain, the result of six months of work, establishes that Spain will be the EU Member State “responsible” for the application of Schengen in Gibraltar, although during a transitional period of four years it will be assisted by Frontex. The inclusion of Gibraltar in the Schengen area means that British traveling to the region will have to pass some kind of passport control at the border, while Spaniards will be able to cross freely..
But in the mandate approved by the European Commission this Tuesday, the role of Frontex is abolished. Y Spain is given full prominence: “To ensure full protection of the Schengen area, the control and surveillance of the external borders would be carried out in the port, airport and waters of Gibraltar by Spain applying the relevant EU rules. The border crossings to be established at the port and airport would allow the application of relevant EU legislation, including the implementation and use of the databases necessary for border controls. Spanish border guards would have all the necessary powers to carry out border controls and surveillance and the consequent obligations, including with regard to acting on alerts in databases (for example, to deny entry). In the event of alerts, including denial of entry and arrest, Spain would take follow-up action and, if necessary, the UK authorities regarding Gibraltar would assist and facilitate the implementation of the alert, such as the transfer of the person or object in question to the authorities of Spain “.
European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, EU negotiator during post-Brexit, said: “We are honoring the political commitment we made with Spain to start negotiations for a separate agreement between the EU and the UK in Gibraltar. There is a mandate. whose objective is to benefit those who live and work on both sides of the border between Spain and Gibraltar, while protecting the integrity of the Schengen Area and the Single Market “.
Gibraltar was not included in the agreement for the future post-Brexit relationship between the EU and the UK on 24 December 2020. The European Commission then undertook to initiate the negotiation of a separate agreement on Gibraltar, if Spain so requested, which it has done. This is why the Commission is now recommending that the Council authorize the start of specific negotiations on Gibraltar.
The political agreement that will serve as the basis for the EU negotiation reached by Spain and the United Kingdom involves applying Schengen to Gibraltar and lifting the gate.
The agreement also allows for the incorporation of fair competition measures in taxation, environment and labor matters.
Approximately 15,000 community workers cross the gate daily to work in Gibraltar.
“Spain appreciates and positively values the effort made by the European Commission in approving a proposed mandate adapted to the understanding between Spain and the United Kingdom reached on December 31 last.“said a government statement:” Spain will be at all times accompanying the European Commission ensuring that its legal positions, interests and objectives are safeguarded and that the commitments reached between Spain and the United Kingdom are respected. Spain wants the negotiation to be concluded as soon as possible so that a new framework can be quickly established to ensure shared prosperity for the benefit of all parties and, in particular, the citizens of Campo de Gibraltar “.