Edwin Poots on legal action against Northern Ireland Protocol
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It comes after the UK responded to a pre-action letter sent by Brussels in March which threatened to begin an “infringement procedure”. EU officials claim the UK Government unilaterally delayed the introduction of custom controls on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from mainland Britain until October 2020.
But Whitehall officials told Express.co.uk they were “surprised” Brussels was considering options to take the UK to court.
A senior UK Government source, said: “It’s surprising if Brussels goes down the legal route.
“It’s completely unjustified and unacceptable.
“They should be working with the UK, not attempting to fuel the fire and cause arguments.”
A Commission spokesperson said they were “considering” their next steps after receiving a letter from the UK Government.
They added: “We can confirm that the United Kingdom replied on 14 May to the European Commission’s letter of formal notice, sent on 15 March.
“The Commission will now assess the contents of the letter before deciding on next steps.”
The EU claims the delay in implementation violates the protocol of the 2019 divorce agreement that deals with Ireland.
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The divorce agreement led to the Northern Ireland Protocol which created a range of EU customs and regulatory rules.
But Unionist politicians in Ulster claim that the move effectively created a barrier with Great Britain due to checks being made on goods coming from mainland UK.
Edwin Poots, the incoming DUP leader said getting rid of the Northern Ireland Protocol will be his top priority in the coming months.
Speaking to Belfast’s Sunday Life, the MLA added: “The Protocol is by far the biggest issue.
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“For me, this is not a unionist issue. This is a Northern Ireland issue.
“We need to find a solution that overcomes all of this.
“We need the EU to recognise this Protocol is not fit for purpose.
“It isn’t working and it cannot work and therefore we have to go back to the drawing board.”
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Cabinet Office Minister Lord Frost and EU Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič are due to hold further crunch talks on how to resolve the issue.
But this publication understands Lord Frost is looking at “waiting” for the EU’s decision on legal action before outlining how to deal with Brussels further.
Lord Frost today called on Brussels to “stop point-scoring” over the Protocol and claims the arrangement “not working”.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Lord Frost said the Protocol was a “huge improvement” on the backstop arrangement proposed by former Prime Minister Theresa May.
But he stressed that he understands why the Protocol “makes unionism in Northern Ireland anxious”.
He said Brussels had a responsibility “to find a new approach and new solutions”.
The Cabinet Minister said a situation in which the Protocol damages the “political, social, or economic fabric of life”, cannot be “sustained”.
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