The European Commission offered a package of measures to facilitate customs controls between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. The British say they will analyze the proposals. The tension between the block of 27 and the United Kingdom dates back to 2016 when the Brexit agreement was signed.
This Wednesday, October 13, a team of negotiators from the European Commission offered a package of measures to facilitate customs controls between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. In addition, he promised to ensure that the flow of medications is not affected. This, to prevent a new confrontation between the EU and the British country.
Maros Sefcovic, the vice president of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations assured that with this proposal “we hope to collaborate seriously and intensely with the Government of the United Kingdom, in the interest of all the communities of Northern Ireland”. And he added that “what is at stake is preserving peace and stability on the island of Ireland, which is divided between the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU, and Northern Ireland, a region of the United Kingdom.”
The package involves cutting customs paperwork in half, as well as reducing 80% of sanitary and phytosanitary controls on goods moving from the UK to Northern Ireland. In this way, the return of a commercial border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would be prevented.
Sefcovic stated that “these solutions would create a fast track for the movement of goods from the UK to Northern Ireland”. However, he assured that “robust monitoring and enforcement would be maintained to protect the EU from threats to health and safety.”
These proposals could also ease the so-called “sausage war.” UK authorities accused the EU of purist food safety regulations that would ban trade in Northern Ireland chilled meats.
In counterpart, the EU calls for “proper live data exchange, strengthened control of supply chains and labeling to ensure that British products do not enter the EU single market through the back door of Northern Ireland.”
Finally, the Vice-President of the European Commission said that “I have listened and engaged with the stakeholders in Northern Ireland. Today’s proposals are our authentic response to your concerns. ” And he added that “they have the potential to make a real and tangible difference on the ground.”
UK analyzes proposals
For his part, Brexit Minister David Frost said he would “analyze the EU proposals in a constructive way.” This, despite the fact that he had said yesterday that the current policy on Northern Ireland should be broken.
For Frost, “significant changes must be made that address the fundamental issues at the heart of the protocol, including governance, if we are to reach a lasting agreement that is supported by Northern Ireland.”
With these statements, he reiterates London’s request to the EU for a complete rewrite of the protocol. Something that the EU rejects. Indeed, the United Kingdom has threatened on occasion to resort to article 16 of the protocol, which allows any of the parties to terminate the commercial contract if they do not agree with it.
For its part, the Democratic Unionist Party, Northern Ireland’s largest pro-British party, said that “the EU proposals were a starting point, but they did not achieve the necessary fundamental changes.”
While the Northern Ireland Business Brexit Task Force welcomed the proposal. In a statement he said that “we welcome the signals of movement from both sides, which we have always said would be necessary if we were to find a lasting solution.”
The design of the protocol created friction when the UK announced its intentions to secede from the European Union in 2016. Brexit impacted the implementation of a de facto trade border within the UK. This is to prevent goods from entering the EU through the back door.
With EFE, AFP and Reuters