Brexit: Ireland 'wants to punish the UK' says Hoey
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Sources told Express.co.uk that there are divisions between the member states, European Parliament and Commission over the decision to pause legal action against Downing Street for an alleged breach of the post-Brexit border fix. One insider said the move was seen as granting an undeserved diplomatic win to No10 at a time when UK-EU tensions are at breaking point. Hardliners in the Council and Parliament were furious that the Commission had gone easy on Mr Johnson’s decision to unilaterally defy EU-ordered trade checks in Northern Ireland.
It comes at a time when eurocrats and officials from the Cabinet Office are discussing the UK’s plans to protect peace and stability in the region.
Ahead of the talks, Maros Sefcovic, the EU Commission’s vice-president responsible for Brexit, announced that legal action against the UK had been paused to create the “necessary space” to consider No10’s proposals on how to avoid a hard border.
One EU official said that some nations, including France and Germany, are frustrated with the Commission for “gifting the UK a diplomatic win” by pausing legal action.
The hardliners fear that Brussels may go too far in offering concessions to Britain, after Lord Frost called for the measures to be reworked in order to remove EU-ordered customs controls in Northern Ireland as part of the Brexit deal’s protocol for avoiding a hard border.
They are hoping to build pressure on Mr Sefcovic to ensure that the letter of EU single market law is applied and that the bloc does not buckle to UK demands for a wholesale renegotiation of the agreement.
Mr Sefcovic is expected to hold meetings with diplomats and MEPs over the summer to convince them of his methods in the Brexit talks with Britain.
In a recent meeting with MEPs, the Slovak diplomat told the EU Parliament’s Brexit committee that Lord Frost’s demands amounted to renegotiation of up to 50 percent of the protocol’s legal text.
Discussions are expected to continue over the summer as a series of deadlines loom – such as an EU ban on the sale of British sausages in Northern Ireland.
But the EU has so far rejected the idea of a renegotiation of the arrangements.
The withdrawal agreement’s protocol was negotiated because of the region’s land border with the Republic of Ireland in the EU.
To keep the frontier open, Northern Ireland remains in the bloc’s single market, with controls on products shipped from the rest of the UK.
As part of a renegotiation, Lord Frost wants to strip the European Court of Justice’s role in managing the protocol from the treaty.
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A UK spokeswoman said: “Officials are in contact and we will be engaging in talks in the weeks ahead to progress the proposals in our Command Paper.
“We are ready to work at pace to resolve the issues and move forward in a constructive way.”
Downing Street has praised the Commission for its legal climbdown.
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Last week Whitehall officials said they have received a “constructive reply” from the Commission in response to the request for a standstill.
A spokesman added: “We look forward to engaging in talks with the EU in the weeks ahead. Significant changes are needed to ensure the protocol is sustainable for the future.”
Lord Frost was said to be in regular contact with his EU counterpart Mr Sefcovic.
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