London threatens with unilateral actions if the EU does not give in in Northern Ireland

The Secretary of State of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, Michael Ellis, assured this Thursday that his Government does not intend to “discard” the protocol that prevents the appearance of a physical border in Ireland after Brexit, but stressed that “significant changes” are needed.

For his part, the Vice President of the European Commission (EC) for Interinstitutional Relations, Maros Sefcovicaffirmed that the community club is not going to renegotiate the protocol and warned against unilateral measures by the United Kingdom aimed at suspending that mechanism.

Both expressed themselves in this way at the first meeting of the parliamentary assembly between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which is being held today and tomorrow in Brussels, in a context in which London is exploring the possibility of unilaterally annulling provisions of the Irish protocol signed with the European Union.

“We have never proposed scrapping the protocol and we do not intend to because there will always have to be a treaty governing the relationship between the UK and the EU in respect of Northern Ireland. However, we need to see significant changes in him,” Ellis stated.

He stressed that the British Government believes in “the founding objectives of the protocol: to protect the Good Friday peace agreement, to ensure that Northern Ireland remains an integral part of the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom internal market and to provide guarantees to the European Union. that the single market is protected. “But clearly, in its current form, the protocol is not meeting those internal objectives,” he asserted.

He explained that the situation after the elections in Northern Ireland, in which Sinn Féin nationalists won for the first time, “is clearly undermining the Good Friday peace agreement and is creating an unacceptable situation in Northern Ireland”.

“Peace in Northern Ireland is based on respect between all communities and is based on the consent of those communities. Current arrangements with the European Union are undermining that. We will not allow this to continue. We must fix the national impact of the protocol”, she stated, adding that the protocol has become “the biggest obstacle” to forming an Executive in the Northern Irish region.

Ellis stressed that the current situation with the protocol “is not working” and “is creating a two-tier system” with differences in treatment between Northern Irish and the rest of the UK.

What the protocol says

The protocol establishes that Northern Ireland continues to be linked to the single community market for goods, so that goods that cross between the rest of the United Kingdom and that territory must pass customs controls in the ports of the region, so as to ensure that the border between the two Irelands remains invisible.

However, the new bureaucratic burden has led to product shortages and political tensions in Northern Ireland.

To facilitate implementation, the EC tabled a series of proposals in October that Ellis said would take the UK “back from where we are today”. “It is therefore very disappointing that the EU has confirmed that it will never change its (negotiating) mandate and that is why the situation is now very serious,” he denounced.

“We will take action to protect the Good Friday peace agreement if no solutions can be found,” he stressed, asking that the EU Court of Justice not be in charge of resolving disputes over the protocol.

He also regretted that the UK’s participation in the EU’s research funding programme, Horizon Europe, is being delayed.

However, he highlighted the close cooperation between London and Brussels in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sefcovic recognized that the relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom “is not where he would like it to be”, given London’s position on the protocol, a mechanism that according to the vice president of the EC is not going to be renegotiated.

“The EU is united in this position. Unilateral action, which in fact ceases to apply the protocol, is not a solution for the way forward”, he evidenced.

He added that the protocol is “the only solution that squares the circle” between Brexit and the situation on the island of Ireland.

“Its implementation is a priority and a precondition for a constructive bilateral relationship. Trust is built by adhering to international obligations,” he commented.

The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, called to “refrain from unilateral actions that would undermine Western unity and association against Russian aggression” in Ukraine and also ruled out renegotiating the protocol.

Albares demands that the United Kingdom comply with what it signed

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, has demanded that the United Kingdom comply with what it signed after Brexit, and has urged the British government to dialogue.

The agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, “like all international agreements, must be respected”, he defended at a press conference with his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, to whom he transferred the “solidarity” of the Spanish Government, since Ireland It would be the country most affected if London complied with its threat.

Coveney has lamented the “threats” from the United Kingdom against an agreement that, as he recalled, was “designed and agreed” by the Government of Boris Johnson, and has called for resolving any discrepancies through dialogue, for which he has suggested that there must be “will” and “flexibility” on the part of the British authorities.

“The last thing the EU needs right now is tensions with the UK. The last thing Ireland needs is tensions with the UK,” the Irish Foreign Minister warned.

This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.