France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune warned that if talks between the European Union and Britain over the protocol are not successful there will be “measures” against the UK. Speaking on Sunday, he told Radio France: “Discussion without pressure is naive.
“If dialogue is not successful with the British, there will be measures restricting our cooperation in areas important to them.”
But Mr Beaune’s comments sparked a backlash from some Express.co.uk readers.
Commenting on this website, a reader with the username AlphaSilk wrote: “Who does he think he is?”
Another reader, QualityCounts, commented: “EU = Threats, threats, threats. Why would anybody want to be part of a project that has to use threats?”
A third, user gooseiscooked, said: “Hard to imagine how EU could be more intransigent to the UK than it already is.”
Another reader, camera12, blasted: “Only cowards issue threats.”
A fifth, theraven, wrote: “The EU is scared stiff of the UK, who would have thought, we will never return to the EU no matter what rubbish remoaners go on about, perpetual threats, yes the agreement that May negotiated was rubbish because the political elite and the labour Party did everything they could to make things difficult for the UK negotiation team……………”
It comes as UK Brexit minister Lord Frost arrived at the European Commission in Brussels on Friday for talks with Vice President Maros Sefcovic on the protocol.
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He said: “So I think the EU has definitely made an effort in pushing beyond where they typically go in these areas and we’re quite encouraged by that, but obviously there is still quite a big gap and that’s what we’ve got to work through today and in the future.”
Lord Frost said the role of the ECJ in policing the protocol will be an issue in the discussions with Mr Sefcovic.
“The governance arrangements as we have them don’t work – we need to take the court out of the system as it is now and we need to find a better way forward,” he said.
Lord Frost has warned that the UK could move to suspend parts of the protocol by triggering Article 16 if an acceptable compromise cannot be reached.
However, such a move could prompt retaliatory action on trade from the EU.