Lord Frost discusses the deadline for invoking Article 16
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Brexit-supporting website Facts4EU.org suggests the bloc would suffer in an escalated trade stand-off with the UK. It suggests EU goods sales to the UK in the 12 months to the end of August totalled a huge £252.2billion. Facts4EU.Org said: “If the EU starts a trade war, they will put economies and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. Here is the cold, hard truth for the EU of what it would be putting at risk, if it chose to start a trade war with the United Kingdom – its ‘Treasure Island’.”
They single out Germany as the EU country most likely to be crippled by a trade cold-turkey with the UK, describing it as “by far the EU’s largest economy.”
It estimates goods sales to the UK from Germany in 2019 amount to £65.6 billion.
Their report adds: “Recently, however, the EU’s economic powerhouse and biggest contributor to the EU’s budget by far, has been experiencing some difficulties.
“Production output as a whole in Germany is falling, retail sales continue to fall, and inflation is now running at 4.5 percent.
“For Germany, the largest single product group it sells to the UK is of course motor vehicles, particularly cars.
“It is Germany’s car industry which is particularly suffering, due to supply chain difficulties and other factors.
“For Germany the motor industry is a significant part of the economy, representing 10 percent of GDP.”
Using pre-COVID-19 statistics from 2019, they categorised the EU’s top suppliers to the UK likely to lose out of the UK ceased to be a prominent trading partner of the EU.
Next up is the Netherlands, who conducted £42.9 billion worth of goods sales to the UK in 2019, according to the website.
France comes in at third place, with a figure of £31.4 billion for the same year.
They add that the EU has a track record of selling 52 percent more goods to the UK than the UK buys from the bloc.
This report follows Brexit minister, Lord David Frost, threatening to use Article 16 – which would suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol – after criticising EU proposals to ease trade tensions as not comprehensive enough.
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The EU retaliated by warning of “serious consequences” if the UK was to go down that route.
EU Commission Vice-President, Maros Sefcovic, said on Friday: “Let there be no doubt that triggering Article 16 – to seek the renegotiation of the Protocol – would have serious consequences.”
Some analysts have speculated that the EU could also suspend various other post-Brexit trade pacts.
This has been labelled the “nuclear” option at the EU’s disposal, and would mean suspending all or part of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
Nonetheless, Lord Frost repeated on Friday that the option for him to trigger Article 16 was “very much on the table.”
He said: “We hope to make some progress, but honestly, the gap between us is still quite significant, but let’s see where we can get to. We’re not going to trigger Article 16 today, but Article 16 is very much on the table and has been since July.
“Time is running out on these talks if we are to make progress.”
Mr Sefcovic responded: “I found this disappointing and once again I urge the UK Government to engage with us sincerely.
“From this perspective, I see next week as an important one. We should focus all efforts on reaching a solution as soon as possible.
“Our aim should be to establish stability and predictability for Northern Ireland.”
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