The UK has issued a warning to the EU over the future of Northern Ireland at the start of a pivotal week of talks between Brexit minister Lord David Frost and Maroš Šefčovič, vice president of the European Commission.
Frost will tell the commission it will be making a “historic misjudgement” if it does not greenlight concessions on Northern Ireland and end the authority of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Northern Ireland.
The UK will present draft legal texts setting out its alternative to the Northern Ireland protocol during the talks in Lisbon while Frost will urge the EU “to focus on the bigger picture” and, with the UK, “unite and refocus on the shared challenges confronting the West, including China and Russia”, according to the Telegraph.
Šefčovič will present four proposals for lasting solutions to the disruptions caused by the protocol – customs procedures, the supply of medicines, rules on animal health, and chilled meats (which could end the so-called ‘sausage war’).
Frost’s ‘excellent’ deal and looming trade war
However, these do not go far enough for the UK and Frost will call for “significant” changes to the Brexit deal – the same agreement he negotiated, signed and called “excellent” – in a speech today (October 12) where he will demand a major rewrite.
The UK is insistent that the Northern Ireland protocol is changed and that the European Court of Justice’s continuing role in enforcing the EU’s legal acquis in Northern Ireland ends.
The Financial Times reports a trade war between the EU and the UK is looming while the Guardian reveals a terse Twitter exchange between Frost and Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister who was dismayed by the nature of the UK’s rejection of a “serious” offer to resolve the row.
“EU working seriously to resolve practical issues with implementation of Protocol – so UKG 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?”, tweeted Coveney.
To which Frost immediately replied: “I prefer not to do negotiations by Twitter, but since @simoncoveney has begun the process … the issue of governance & the CJEU [court of justice of the European Union] 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”.
EU warns UK of ‘significant economic and social damage’
Meanwhile, a group of 14 EU member states are set to accuse the UK of risking “significant economic and social damage” to fishing communities by not holding up their part of the Brexit deal.
A declaration from the 14 countries will call on the UK to act “in the spirit and the letter” of the Brexit agreement – and follows anger at the number of licences given to fishermen to access British waters.
More talk of trade wars will be sparked by the latest development and the Guardian reports “the member states will make a thinly veiled threat about the likely impact on future EU-UK fisheries negotiations if the UK does not rethink its stance.”