Ireland furiously rejects UK demand to change Brexit deal ‘There’s enough leeway already!’
Brexit: Thomas Byrne outlines 'fundamental problem'
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But Dublin has urged Brussels to show flexibility in order to find a solution to the row that threatens to leave EU-UK relations in tatters. Irish premier Micheal Martin said the “bulk” of his discussions on Tuesday evening with Boris Johnson had focused on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Mr Martin insisted that an agreement to help eliminated EU-ordered trade checks in the region could be found to if there is “goodwill on both sides”.
But his European affairs minister, Thomas Byrne, declared that Dublin does not want to see a wholesale renegotiation of the post-Brexit border fix.
Speaking earlier today, Mr Martin said: “We’ve made it very clear to the UK Government that the mechanisms exist within the Withdrawal Agreement, for issues that need to be resolved within the operation of the protocol, that they can be resolved with goodwill on both sides.
“The British Government has indicated that they are willing to give this significant engagement over the coming months.
“Our sense from the EU all along, and I spoke to Ursula von der Leyen about this on Friday, the EU has always been willing to engage in a positive way.
“There has to be be engagement on both sides.
“The EU stands ready to engage with the UK on these issues.”
His intervention came as Brexit minister Lord Frost called for “significant changes” to the Northern Ireland Protocol, but stopped short of ripping it up.
Dublin has stressed the need for flexibility from the EU and UK in order to protect the Good Friday peace process.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Byrne was reluctant to completely rule out renegotiation of the border fix.
He said: “We spent a long time negotiating these documents, they are there and there are possibilities for flexibilities within those documents but our position, and of our colleague member states, that there is enough leeway within these treaties and the protocol to make this thing move forward and give finality and certainty to the situation.”
He added: “We don’t want to renegotiate the protocol that is there, but within the confines of the protocol we think there are creative ways of doing things.”
In a statement to Parliament, Lord Frost urged Brussels to renegotiate the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Brexit minister said ministers want the bloc to give up its rights to take disputes over the border fix to the European Court of Justice and allow goods that don’t meet EU standards to be sold in the area.
He also called for fewer checks to be carried out on goods crossing the Irish sea, insisting that they accounted for just 20 percent of all EU border checks for food and animals.
But Lord Frost stopped short of saying the UK would trigger Article 16 to override the protocol despite claiming the conditions to activate it had been met.
He said: “It is plainly clear that the circumstances exist to justify the use of Article 16.
“Nevertheless, we have concluded that this is not the right moment to do so.”
The peer added: “Put simply, we cannot go on as we are. As we’ve sought to operate the protocol it is clear that these burdens have been the source of considerable and ongoing disruption to lives and livelihoods.
“We’ve seen reductions in supermarket product lines, we’ve seen more than 200 suppliers decide they would no longer sell to Northern Ireland. And we’ve seen difficulties, not just on the famous chilled meats, but also on medicines, on pets, or movements of live animals on seeds and plants.
“What is worse, these burdens will get worse, not improve over time as grace periods expire leaving businesses facing evermore unsustainable burdens.”
Lord Frost insisted the Government’s preferred outcome was for a negotiated solution to be found with the EU.
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