Brexit: Northern Ireland 'being used as a plaything' says Poots
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The European Union desperately hopes the US President’s trip to the UK will help persuade Boris Johnson to agree a plan to end the bitter row over the region. Mr Biden is set to meet the Prime Minister ahead of next week’s G7 summit in Cornwall and has confirmed he wants to see a fix in the row over for post-Brexit border plan which has recently sparked controversy. His arrival in Britain will come just after EU and UK officials meet in London in an attempt to hammer out a strategy for the implementation of the 2019 Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol.
Both sides have been at loggerheads over the new rules to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.
An EU diplomat told the FT: “Biden could be instrumental in helping to put the process back on track.
“There is no mystery around the fact that Biden wants this solved.”
Brexit minister David Frost and his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic are due to meet each other on June 9 for a season of the UK-EU Joint Committee on Northern Ireland.
President Biden is due to arrive in Britain shortly after for his first face-to-face talks with Mr Johnson ahead of the G7 summit on June 11.
The insider insisted that the EU had already done “quite a lot” to try and resolve the feud, adding: “We think the timing will help the process.”
Brussels reacted furiously in March after Downing Street announced plans to unilaterally suspend EU-ordered customs controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Whitehall officials argued this was to give businesses more time to adjust to the new rules and stop supermarket supplies from running out.
In retaliation, the European Commission triggered legal proceedings against the Government.
And now the EU believes the bust-up between London and Brussels is not an ideal backdrop for Mr Johnson’s meeting with the US President.
A second EU diplomat said: “Joe Biden wants a good relationship with the UK and the EU and wants them to work together.”
A spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council said President Biden was seeking for the UK and EU “to prioritise political and economic stability in Northern Ireland”.
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The Washington official added: “We remain steadfast supporters of a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland in which all communities have a voice and enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace.”
The Good Friday Agreement should “not become a casualty of Brexit”, the spokesperson added.
Downing Street believes in a fix for the post-Brexit border rules before the summer marching season kicks off.
Unionists have been particularly angered by the Protocol amid concerns it diminishes their place within the United Kingdom.
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Lord Frost is adamant the UK is doing its best to find solutions to make the border fix work but claims the EU is being overly bureaucratic and not pragmatic enough to make it work.
Ministers fear the tensions could spark further violence in Northern Ireland, after a series of riots rocked the region in recent months, as Loyalists prepare to mark the July 12 anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.
Writing in a joint op-ed with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, Lord Frost said: “We urge the EU to work with us to embrace a common sense approach, focused on genuine problems, not mitigating risks that don’t exist.
“Only if implemented in a pragmatic and proportionate way can the Protocol support the peace process and ensure the people of Northern Ireland continue to see the benefits of prosperity and stability. If it does not do this, then it is not working.
“Let us work together to keep Northern Ireland on the positive path of recent years. History has shown that pragmatism and compromise can deliver results – but only if they engage with, rather than avoid, the underlying problems.
“We urge all who want Northern Ireland to succeed to work with us towards this bright future.”
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