Lord Frost and Simon Coveney in NI Protocol twitter spat

Simon Coveney has questioned if the UK wants “a breakdown in relations” with the European Union in a late night Twitter spat with Brexit negotiator David Frost.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 8:49 am
Updated Monday, 11th October 2021, 10:12 am
Simon Coveney and Lord Frosr

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister was responding to reports of a speech Lord Frost is preparing to give in Portugal in Tuesday, in which he will make removing the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Northern Ireland a red-line issue.

The speech will come a day before the EU is expected to produce “far-reaching” plans to resolve issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, which prevents a hard border in Ireland, but has led to economic barriers between Northern Ireland and Britain.

Brussels has indicated it will provide solutions on the flow of chilled meats and medicines into NI from the UK, but has ruled out removing the oversight role of the ECJ.

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney arriving at Government Buildings, Dublin

On Saturday night, Mr Coveney tweeted: ‘EU working seriously to resolve practical issues with implementation of Protocol – so UKG (UK government) creates a new “red line” barrier to progress, that they know EU can’t move on ... are we surprised? Real Q: Does UKG actually want an agreed way forward or a further breakdown in relations?’

Responding, Lord Frost said: ‘1. I prefer not to do negotiations by twitter, but since @simoncoveney has begun the process ... the issue of governance & the CJEU is not new.

‘We set out our concerns three months ago in our 21 July Command Paper. The problem is that too few people seem to have listened.

‘2. We await proposals from @MarosSefcovic. We will look at them seriously & positively whatever they say. We will discuss them seriously and intensively. But there needs to be significant change to the current situation if there is to be a positive outcome.’

Lord Frost speaking to the News Letter at the Tory Party Conference Centre for Policy Studies event, October 5 2021. Pic by Ben Lowry

European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said last week that the EU is preparing “far reaching proposals” on the protocol. But he said it was “hard to see how Northern Ireland would ... keep access to the single market without oversight of the European Court of Justice”.