Removing EU court rules in Northern Ireland will cost access to the single market


The Northern Ireland Protocol introduced a customs border between the province and mainland Britain to avoid the need for invisible border controls on the island of Ireland.

This means Northern Ireland retains access to the EU single market, which the rest of the UK left on December 31, as well as the UK market.

Mr Sefcovic said this made the province a magnet for foreign investment and it was like having “jam on both sides of the bread”.

But the UK maintains the protocol is having a chilling effect on trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland and wants it revised.

Brussels maintains that solutions can be found within the framework of the treaty. The counter-proposals will focus on customs, trade, food health rules and measures to strengthen the voice of the Northern Ireland Assembly in the operation of the protocol.

“Protocol is not the problem”

But Mr Sefcovic warned: “We will not renegotiate the protocol, as the UK demands. And we will not accept solutions that would effectively mean cutting Northern Ireland off from the EU single market and opportunities. related.

“The Protocol is not the problem. On the contrary, it is the only solution we have. Failure to implement it will not make the problems go away, it will simply take away the tools to solve them.”

Lord Frost warned that if negotiations with Brussels did not make substantial changes to the protocol by early November, it would trigger Article 16 nuclear option to suspend parts of the treaty.

Mr Sefcovic said the EU would respond with measures that could include trade tariffs.

“I can assure you that we will not hesitate to use the options available to us to safeguard the interests of the EU”, warned Mr Sefcovic, “but I hope we should not engage in this way”.

He said: “British politicians have talked a lot about the possibility of the UK triggering Article 16. I don’t think it has been helpful. It distracts us from working together to find solutions,”

He added: “I will continue to look for solutions to minimize the effects of Brexit on daily life. We can never remove them completely. These are the consequences of Brexit and the choices made by the UK”

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