The European Union (EU) on Friday warned the United Kingdom that suspending the post-Brexit trade deal in Northern Ireland could have serious repercussions on relations between the former allies.
The two sides held a new round of high-level talks on Friday to resolve tensions arising from the implementation of the protocol to Northern Ireland, amid British threats to suspend the deal.
After Brexit’s shocking divorce, London and Brussels signed an agreement on their trade relationship by the end of 2020, which contained a special arrangement for Ireland, which began to cause immediate problems.
In this controversy, the British authorities promised a waiver on EU restrictions, but without further concessions, the British authorities insisted that Article 16 of the treaty be ratified, giving the parties the power to suspend the terms of the agreement.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefkovic held a meeting in Brussels today with British Minister for Brexit David Frost in a new attempt to find a way to avert a rift.
Arriving at the meeting, Frost said he did not intend to immediately activate UK Article 16, but added that this option would remain “on the table”.
At the end of the meeting, Cefkovic directly warned that “activating Article 16 to force the protocol to be reconsidered would have serious consequences.”
Zefkovic added that such a move would be “serious” for Northern Ireland, which could lead to instability and unpredictability, as well as ties between London and Brussels. .
– ‘Disappointing’ –
According to Cefkovic, the EU has already granted concessions, “but to date we have not seen any move from the UK. It is disappointing and I urge the UK government to work with us sincerely.”
A British government source in London said Frost had expressed his conviction to Sefkovic at a meeting on Friday that “EU recommendations do not effectively address the fundamental difficulties in the operation of the protocol”.
Therefore, Frost, who arrived at the meeting place in Brussels, told reporters that there were still “important differences” to be overcome in the discussions.
In this context, a European diplomat in the Belgian capital indicated that the EU was moving ahead with preparations for London’s case for the activation of Article 16, but warned that there would be a “strong response” from Europe.
This reaction, according to the source, could even lead to a complete suspension of the trade agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom, a situation of rupture that could have unpredictable economic consequences.
Cefkovic and Frost will meet again in London next week in another attempt to avoid separation.
Meanwhile, the UK and France are at loggerheads over fishing rights, another collateral result of agreements between London and Brussels.
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