Lord David Frost has spoken from Portugal today as the UK faces a standoff with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, calling for changes to t
Lord David Frost has spoken from Portugal today as the UK faces a standoff with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, calling for changes to the agreement. The UK has a series of demands, namely preventing the European Court of Justice from playing a role in the agreement.
Lord Frost has set out new guidelines for the Northern Ireland Protocol, aiming to amend the deal.
He said today: “The EU and we have got into a low equilibrium, somewhat fractious relationship, but it need not always be like that. But also it takes two to fix it.
“Fixing the very serious problem we have in the Northern Ireland Protocol is a prerequisite for getting to that better place.”
The UK aims to renegotiate the initial Northern Ireland deal, as it is causing trade disruption with the rest of the UK.
Read More: David Frost to drop Brexit bomb today – and the EU won’t be happy
However, there have been fraught negotiations spanning back to Theresa May’s government – with Brussels not looking to budge.
The EU is poised to respond to Lord Frost’s new plan on Wednesday, however, Lord Frost has said triggering Article 16 may be “the only way forward”.
Lord Frost said the key feature of the Good Friday Agreement is “balance, which is being shredded” by the protocol.
He explained that is because the UK is “being asked to run a full-scale boundary through our country”, which is damaging businesses and causing “serious” disruption to political institutions.
What triggering article 16 means for UK and Brexit
As part of the Brexit withdrawal deal, the UK and EU agreed to special terms surrounding Northern Ireland.
The original agreement saw Northern Ireland remain within the EU’s single market, meaning goods can travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without a hard border.
However, when it comes to goods being transported between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK there are checks and controls now in place – known as the Irish Sea Border.
As part of the Northern Ireland Protocol, there is Article 16, which would suspend parts of the deal if the agreement is causing issues.
An unnamed diplomat told RTE the EU is “looking at things like further infringement [legal] proceedings, arbitration mechanisms, and cross retaliation into the [EU UK] Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”
The source said: “The commission will challenge the UK invocation of the article legally because the view would be they do not have the right to invoke it, that the conditions are not there to invoke it.
Within Article 16, annexe seven would see a system of “consultations … with a view to finding a commonly acceptable solution” launched.
The joint committee would hold these consultations, including Lord Frost and European Commission vice-president, Maroš Šefčovič.
Any unilateral action – such as suspending checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain – would need a months notice from the Government to enact.
The UK would also be required to hold regular meetings with the EU every three months – with the focus on reverting back to protocol rules.
So what is the UK demanding changes in the Northern Ireland Protocol?
Lord Frost today said he would be delivering a new legal text to the Commission, which lays out changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
He said: “For the EU now to say that the protocol – drawn up in extreme haste in a time of great uncertainty – can never be improved upon, when it is so self-evidently causing such significant problems, would be a historic misjudgement.”
Lord Frost added he will be “ready to discuss” proposals from the EU “whatever they say”, but change must be “significant” to tackle the issues at the forefront of the protocol.
The UK is demanding
- No custom checks
- Dual regulatory regime
- No role for European Court of Justice