Von der Leyen says world is 'full of contradictions and conflict'
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The European Commission president is under growing pressure to offer answers to the problems arising from the protocol, a key part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. At a press conference in Brussels today she said the protocol was the “only solution” to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.
And she stressed all measures of the protocol laid out in the deal signed between Brussels and London must be implemented in full.
She said: “We have been debating that for years and we have found the one and only solution.
“We have a treaty on that – the Withdrawal Agreement. It has been signed by both sides.
“It is important that we now implement the protocol.
“We have shown flexibility, we will show flexibility, but the protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement have to be implemented completely.”
The protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European single market for goods in order to avoid a hard boundary with the Republic of Ireland.
This has given rise to a controversial trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain.
Unionists fear the changes effectively cut off Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK and anger spilled into street violence earlier this year.
Lord Adonis, a Labour peer and outspoken critic of Brexit, has written a scathing review of Ms von der Leyen’s record and warned about her tendency to “pass the buck” when faced with difficult issues.
In an op-ed in Prospect Magazine, he said “von der Leyen is becoming a byword for misjudgements under pressure”.
But looking to her past, he claimed “those who know von der Leyen’s backstory, familiar as they are with her habit of passing the buck, are less shocked” about her actions in recent months.
The EU chief has drawn criticism from across the bloc over her handling of the Covid pandemic.
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In a move that contrasts with the EU’s spirit of friendship, she threatened to trigger a Brexit deal clause to establish border controls on vaccine doses moving into Northern Ireland from the Republic.
She later did an embarrassing U-turn on her plan at the height of a vaccines row in January.
Lord Adonis said Ms von der Leyen’s tactics have not changed since her time at the helm of Germany’s armed forces.
He wrote: “As defence minister, when faced with a scandal of right-wing extremism in parts of the German army or Bundeswehr, she blamed the generals.
“‘The Bundeswehr has an attitude problem, and it appears to have weak leadership at various levels,’ she announced, to a predictably enraged top brass.
“Exorbitant fees paid to consultants to reshape the German military, as a means of sidestepping existing officialdom, provoked a huge storm.
“When auditors revealed shady procurement, she declared that mistakes had been made ‘far below my level.'”
The EU boss is due to attend the G7 summit in Cornwall this weekend where she will meet with world leader to discuss hot global topics.
In his first meeting with Boris Johnson since entering the Oval Office in January, US President Joe Joe Biden is to warn the prime minister not to let the row over Northern Ireland’s
Brexit arrangements put the Good Friday Agreement at risk.
In his first overseas visit, aides said he will stress the need to “stand behind” the protocol, the element of the Brexit deal which has triggered a UK-EU dispute.
The issue has threatened to overshadow the first UK-US bilateral meeting and Mr Johnson’s hosting of the G7 summit, which begins on Friday in Cornwall.
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