Brexit minister: EU proposals on NI must go further than sorting sausage wars

The European Union must go further than scrapping its prohibition on British sausages to resolve the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, Brexit minister Lord Frost will warn.

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 11:02 am
Brexit minister Lord Frost

The peer is to use a speech in Portugal on Tuesday to call for “significant” changes to the post-Brexit agreement he negotiated, including over the role of the European Court of Justice.

His warning will come a day before the EU is expected to produce plans to resolve issues with the protocol, which has led to economic barriers between Northern Ireland and Britain.

Brussels is likely to propose that chilled meats can continue crossing the Irish Sea from Britain after the end of the current grace periods, in a move to alleviate the so-called sausage wars.

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But Lord Frost will use the speech in Lisbon to warn that compromises must go far further than this to address issues such as the role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.

“The EU now needs to show ambition and willingness to tackle the fundamental issues at the heart of the protocol head on,” he is expected to tell the diplomatic community.

“The commission have been too quick to dismiss governance as a side issue. The reality is the opposite.

“The role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland and the consequent inability of the UK Government to implement the very sensitive arrangements in the protocol in a reasonable way has created a deep imbalance in the way the protocol operates.

“Without new arrangements in this area, the protocol will never have the support it needs to survive.”

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney questioned whether UK ministers “actually want an agreed way forward or a further breakdown in relations?”

“EU working seriously to resolve practical issues with implementation of Protocol – so UKG (Government) creates a new ‘red line’ barrier to progress, that they know EU can’t move on… are we surprised?” he tweeted.

A Government source threatened that the UK would trigger Article 16 of the protocol – effectively overriding parts of the deal – if the EU proposals amount to “tinkering around the edges”.

The protocol was negotiated to avoid a hard border with Ireland, by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

But unionists have been pressuring for it to be scrapped because of the trade barriers it has created on products crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain.

Lord Frost will also this week share a new legal text with the European Commission to propose the “foundation” for a new protocol to support the Good Friday Agreement.