The European Union warned the United Kingdom on Friday that suspending a post-Brexit trade agreement on Northern Ireland would have “serious consequences” for relations between former allies.
The two parties held a new round of high-level negotiations last Friday to resolve the tensions arising from the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the UK’s exit from the European Union. However, the United Kingdom threatened to suspend it.
After the divorce divorce from the European Union (in which the United Kingdom gave up its status as a member state of the European Union), London and Brussels concluded an agreement on their trade relationship at the end of 2020 containing a special mechanism for Ireland, which caused problems in the immediate form.
In this controversy, the EU has offered to loosen controls to facilitate the flow of goods by cutting costs, but the British authorities insist that if there are no greater concessions, they can trigger Article 16 of the treaty, which gives the parties the right to power. to suspend the provisions of the agreement.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic held a meeting in Brussels, Friday, with Britain’s Brexit minister, David Frost, in a fresh attempt to find a way out that would prevent a rupture.
Arriving at that meeting, Frost said his country would not immediately trigger Article 16, but added that the option was still “on the table.”
At the end of the meeting, Sefkovic was direct and warned that “there is no doubt that invoking Article 16 to force a renegotiation of the Protocol will have serious consequences.”
A European diplomat in the Belgian capital, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated that the European Union is already making progress in preparations for the issue in which London is active in the famous Article 16, but warned of a “strong reaction” on the part of Europe.
The source said this reaction could amount to suspending the entire trade agreement between the EU and the UK, a rupture scenario that would lead to unpredictable economic consequences.
Sefcovic added that such a step would be serious “for Northern Ireland because it would create instability and unpredictability” and also for the relations between London and Brussels because it would represent “a rejection of the European Union’s efforts to find a compromise”.
According to Cefkovic, the EU has made concessions “but so far we have not seen any action from the UK. It is disappointing, and I invite the British government to engage with us sincerely.
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