EU ‘simply cannot trust’ UK Government after NI Protocol move, says Simon Coveney

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister has said the EU is negotiating with a partner it “simply cannot trust” after the UK’s latest Brexit move.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 9:30 am
Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney described the UK’s Government’s unilateral decision to continue Irish Sea border grace periods until October as “very frustrating”.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1, Mr Coveney said the British Government is breaking the Northern Ireland Protocol and its own commitments.

“This is not the first time this has happened, that they are negotiating with a partner that they simply cannot trust,” he said.

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“That is why the EU is now looking at legal options and legal actions which effectively means a much more formalised and rigid negotiation process as opposed to a process of partnership where you try to solve problems together, so this is really unwelcome.

“It’s the British Government essentially breaking the protocol, breaking their own commitments again, and the EU having to then consider how they respond to that.”

The first of the light-touch regulation schemes on goods from the rest of the UK transiting to Northern Ireland had been due to expire at the end of March.

Supermarkets would have had to produce export health certificates for all shipments of animal products since Northern Ireland is part of the EU’s single market.

UK Cabinet member Lord David Frost said the UK’s intervention should allow time for constructive discussions with counterparts in Brussels.