Brexit: UK 'can't decide unilaterally' on protocol says Coveney
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Relations between the UK and European Union have soured ever since Brexit was delivered on December 31. Issues over trade in Northern Ireland, customs arrangements and financial markets have been at the forefront of those disagreements. The European Parliament has also refused to set a date to ratify the Trade and Corporation Agreement which was signed over three months ago.
Brussels is already preparing to take legal action against the UK in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
EU officials and diplomats have suggested they could go further and adopt tougher stances on granting the City of London easier access to the bloc’s financial services markets, as well as the Lugano Convention, an international law pact.
Officials in Brussels are also understood to be annoyed by the tough stance taken by former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost, who is leading discussions with the bloc in his new role as Cabinet Secretary.
The prospect of action from the EU against Britain has triggered a furious response from a number of Express.co.uk readers.
Commenting on an Express.co.uk story, one reader wrote: “Trust is a two way street and how can the UK trust the EU when they keep breaking promises made best thing is to leave go to WTO terms.”
A second wrote: “How can we be breaking the law, the EU has not ratified the agreement yet.”
A third added: “Amazing to think they can make us do anything just shows how right we were to get out. No surrender David!”
A fourth wrote: “Trust disappeared many, many years ago, which is when Brexit gained momentum.”
Meanwhile, a fifth said: “Thank God for Lord Frost! Exactly what we need someone to stand up to the EU.”
Much of the disagreements centre on the flow of trade via Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland remains part of the EU customs union and single market as a compromise to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Earlier this month, Britain took the unilateral decision to extend the grace period for goods travelling via Northern Ireland until October – a decision EU chiefs claim threatens the withdrawal agreement.
Brussels has also held off granting City of London bankers so-called equivalence to allow them easier access to clients across the bloc’s markets.
EU chiefs are also weighing up strengthening the Lugano Convention – cross-border legal treaty which helps determine what country’s courts have jurisdiction over civil and commercial disputes.
The accord is signed by the European Union, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark, and also allows for judgements to be enforced abroad.
One senior EU diplomat told the FT: “We had hoped to maintain a trustful partnership.
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“Now it looks like it is going to be a tough and rough relationship for the foreseeable future.”
Meanwhile, another EU diplomat added the bloc would be willing to go even further.
They said: “If the UK is not willing to make this relationship work and is seeking to stretch the fabric as much as possible, we might need to resort to other options.
“Hope is fading that the relationship is going to be very successful in short to medium term… the question is how do we prepare ourselves for that.”
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