EU hits out at Lord Frost's Northern Ireland demands
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Both sides are attempting to seek a compromise over the post-Brexit future of Northern Ireland but the talks have stalled as the EU refuses to cave to Lord Frost’s demands. The Brexit Minister has demanded that the role of the European Court of Justice in policing the protocol come to an end.
The negotiations form part of an attempt to avert a trade war between the UK and the EU.
However, the two sides have been locked in talks since October and a solution is yet to be reached.
According to sources close to the negotiations, Lord Frost and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic are expected to announce that the talks will continue into the new year.
The pair are due to speak twice virtually this week.
Speaking about the continuation of the intensive talks, Lord Frost said on Friday that he hoped to make “worthwhile progress towards agreed solutions before Christmas”.
According to the sources, who spoke to Bloomberg, the two sides are coming close to an agreement over easing the flow of medicines into Northern Ireland but they are still far from an agreement on issues including customs and the role of the European Court of Justice.
The decision to continue with the talks has been seen as a sign of reduced tensions between the UK and the EU.
This comes after a period of turbulent relations in October and November, during which time it appeared that Britain might suspend part of the Brexit agreement by triggering Article 16.
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However, the EU warned of “serious consequences” if Downing Street suspended the post-Brexit deal.
The tensions were exacerbated by the fishing row, which stemmed from France’s claim that the UK failed to comply with the December 2020 Brexit deal by refusing to grant sufficient fishing licences to French fishermen.
The Northern Ireland protocol was agreed as part of the Withdrawal Agreement to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK left the EU.
But because Northern Ireland remained within the EU’s single market for goods, a border was effectively created between Great Britain and Northern Ireland down the Irish Sea.
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The Protocol has come under fire because of border checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which have resulted in delays and supermarket shortages.
Lord Frost claimed that the conditions for activating Article 16 had been met because of the difficulties being caused.
Earlier this year, Downing Street hit out at the EU saying that the way the Protocol is being implemented is “unsustainable”.
This comes as the first detailed economic modelling of the impact of the Protocol on Northern Ireland’s economy has been published.
The report, published by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, says that Northern Ireland’s economy is set to suffer in terms of GDP, jobs, and in its trade with the rest of the United Kingdom.
It estimates that, as a result of the EU’s Protocol, Northern Ireland’s GDP will fall by 2.6 percent, Northern Irish exports to Great Britain will fall by 6.1 percent, and its exports to the rest of the World will drop by 8.6 percent.
The report led Chief Whip Brian Monteith to argue that the Protocol puts Nothern Ireland in “the worst of both worlds”.
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