Brexit: Expert says NI protocol feud may lead to meat shortages
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Brussels and the UK Government have been locking horns on the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The row is seeing EU negotiators issuing threats to the UK as Boris Johnson’s Government intends to extend a so-called “grace period” to avoid a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
But Brussels’ attitude towards Britain is angering eurosceptics across the bloc who are siding with the UK and urging the EU to bury the hatchet.
Nexit Denktank campaigners, who hope the Netherlands will soon join Britain outside of the EU, on Twitter said: “The EU lost all legitimacy in January by invoking a hard border against Northern Ireland against the rules and common sense.
“Now they want to punish the UK again for Brexit with a pedantic tone.
“The EU does not want peace. Nexit!”
In Italy, Marco Zanni MEP, leader of the Identity and Democracy group in the European Parliament, also called on the EU to “learn” from Britain and finally accept Britons’ decision to be independent.
He told his colleagues in Strasbourg this morning: “In my opinion, the next G7 is a fundamental opportunity for the European Union, an opportunity to listen, an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to analyse some strategic errors that unfortunately the Union has committed on very important issues and which it will be good to correct in the future.
“The first theme is our relationship with the United Kingdom and with a country that, despite what has happened, must still be a country from which we have a lot to learn.
“The United Kingdom, which will host this forum, is a country that will emerge stronger and healthier than the European Union from this pandemic.
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“The economy will run faster, the vaccination campaign, contrary to what happened here, was a success and I think this is an excellent opportunity to bury the hatchet with the United Kingdom to accept what has been a choice of British citizens and to renew a new cooperation with a country that is strategic and very important for us.”
British and EU officials failed on Wednesday to agree any solutions to ease post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland and exchanged threats in a standoff that could cloud a weekend international summit.
Since Britain completed a tortuous exit from the EU late last year, its relations with Brussels have soured further, with both sides accusing each other of bad faith over a part of their trade deal that covers goods movements to Northern Ireland.
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The row has been dubbed the “sausage war” because it affects the movement of chilled meats from Britain to Northern Ireland.
Today it stepped up a gear, with Britain saying it could again unilaterally extend a grace period for introducing checks on some goods, and the EU saying it could advance its legal action, a step that could end in tariffs and quotas.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a summit of the world’s seven largest advanced economies this weekend at a seaside village in southwestern England to showcase what he calls “global Britain”.
But he could receive a warning from U.S. President Joe Biden, who, according to the Times newspaper, will tell London to respect a deal with the EU that was designed to protect a 23-year-old peace settlement in Northern Ireland.
In the latest round of talks, British Brexit minister David Frost, who is also expected to attend the summit, met European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic in London to try to resolve the differences over the Northern Ireland protocol.
“We had some pretty frank and honest discussions … There weren’t any breakthroughs. There aren’t any breakdowns either, and we are going to carry on talking,” Frost told reporters.
“What we now need to do is very urgently find some solutions.”
A senior UK source close to the talks said all options were on the table if there was no agreement, including London extending a grace period that waives checks on goods moving to Northern Ireland beyond the June 30 end-date that it has set.
Sefcovic responded in kind, saying the EU was considering advancing its legal challenge over Britain’s actions in Northern Ireland, which could result in a court case by autumn or the eventual imposition of tariffs and quotas.
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