On Wednesday, Brussels immediately rejected a call made by Britain over a deal that the European Union had agreed concerning problematic post-Brexit trade involving Northern Ireland just a year after it was agreed with the bloc.
The Northern Ireland protocol formed part of the Brexit settlement, backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, finally sealing Britain’s divorce from the EU four years after voters backed leaving in a referendum.
Businesses in Northern Ireland stated that the deal will be damaging trade and some pro-British groups have voiced their opinion that it will weaken the ties with Britain stating their concern over a return of violence that had plagued the province for three decades.
Brexit minister, David Frost, said that London ia nit ready and wants a new ‘balance’ to eliminate EU oversight of the accord. However, European Commission Vice President, Maros Sefcovic, stated that the protocol is non-negotiable even Boris Johnson and David Frost attempted a negotiation.
Maros Sefcovic stated, “We will not agree to a renegotiation of the protocol. Respecting international legal obligations is of paramount importance.”
The protocol addresses the biggest problem of the divorce: how to ensure the delicate peace brought to the province by a US – brokered 1998 peace accord – by maintaining an open border – without opening a back door through neighbouring Ireland to the EU’s single market of 450 million people.
The protocol essentially requires checks on goods between Britain and North Ireland, which still remains part of the EU. This part however poses problems for traders and companies and an anathema to unionists. The latter are extremely supportive of the province to remain part of the Unites Kingdom.
The Brexit deal was signed and approved by the British parliament in December 2020 but Frost stated that the arrangement was not functioning as Britain had expected and there was justification for invoking Article 16 of protocol which allows either side to dispense with its terms if they are proving unexpectedly harmful.