‘Can’t trust EU!’ Brexiteer rages Brussels is using Brexit rules as a ‘weapon’ in row
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But Brexiteers said that the plan does not go far enough and warned the EU it must axe the role of European judges in order to make the deal work long-term. The government has told Brussels it wants to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Northern Ireland.
Former Brexit minister David Jones said the demand must be a UK “red line”.
He added: “If you look at the way the EU has been applying the terms of the protocol it’s very hard to trust them not to revert to it at some future time and to seek the approval of the courts for doing whatever they do.
“We can’t leave it with simply a bit of tinkering at the edges.
“What they appear to be suggesting is that they would apply the protocol in the way that we thought they would be applying it at the outset.
“So it’s quite clear that they are not beyond using the protocol as a weapon against the UK and I frankly wouldn’t trust them not to do the same again.”
The protocol was drawn up to prevent a hard Irish border because Northern Ireland became the frontier with the EU.
But it has caused tensions in Northern Ireland after Brussels took a hardline approach to enforce agreement.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the proposals “fall far short of the fundamental change needed”.
“We have a window of opportunity to get this right. The prize for doing so will be great for both sides but most of all for the people of Northern Ireland who can break free from the protocol infecting day-to-day decisions.”
Brexit minister Lord Frost said the protocol was being enforced “without any sort of democratic process”.
He added “We are trying to find solutions to a problem that has arisen, which we hoped would not arise but has arisen because of the relatively insensitive way in which we’ve been forced to implement this protocol.
“We need to find a solution that everybody in Northern Ireland can get behind and provides a better balance and supports the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement fully.”
Brussels put forward changes to rules covering food and drinks products, customs and medicine.
It says the package offers a “different model” for operating the post-Brexit trade agreement.
The reforms include cutting spot checks on retail goods by 80 percent. Paperwork must still be submitted ahead of shipping but the amount of vet-approved export-health certificates would be drastically reduced.
The ban on chilled meat, such as sausages, would also be relaxed but products would have to be clearly labelled so they do not end up on sale over the border in the Republic of Ireland.
It comes after various grace periods on full implementation of the protocol after tensions in Northern Ireland over the impact of trade rules.
But the package does not include measures to allow pets to travel freely into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
The EU said its proposals on customs will halve the volume of paperwork needed on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland through expansion of trusted trader arrangements,
Medicines trade within the UK is restricted under the protocol as Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK are in different regulatory zones for pharmaceuticals.
Under the changes, pharmaceutical companies would be able to act as a hub for the supply of generic medicines to Northern Ireland.
The EU said it wants to improve information exchange between the European Commission and Northern Ireland. It wants to set up groups to provide a forum for discussion on key issues related to the implementation of the protocol.
Lord Frost and European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic will hold talks tomorrow over dinner.
Mr Sefcovic said the proposals are a “direct and genuine” response to concerns raised.
He said: “We have listened to, engaged with and heard Northern Irish stakeholders, from political leaders to businesses and a cross-section of civic society.
“Our proposed solutions are a direct and genuine response to concerns they had raised.”
Sean McGuire, CBI Europe director, said: “The UK and EU have listened to business on many of the technical solutions needed to protect GB-NI trade. Both sides must now grasp this opportunity to get back around the table – and agree with sustainable long-term solutions that work for businesses and communities in Northern Ireland”.
The government said the proposals will be looked at “seriously and constructively”.
“The next step should be intensive talks on both our sets of proposals, rapidly conducted, to determine whether there is common ground to find a solution,” a spokesman said.
“Significant changes which tackle the fundamental issues at the heart of the protocol, including governance, must be made if we are to agree to a durable settlement which commands support in Northern Ireland.
“We need to find a solution which all sides can get behind for the future, which safeguards the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and which puts the UK-EU relationship on a stronger footing. We are ready to work hard with this in mind.”
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