Bernard Jenkin fires warning over European Court of Justice
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Professor David Blake was speaking at the end of a tumultuous week in which both Lord Frost and his opposite number in the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, delivered keynote speeches on the subject.Lord Frost used his on Tuesday to demand the bloc agrees to remove the ECJ’s jurisdiction over the Protocol, which is intended to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland within the single market.
Unionist critics believe has resulted in a border down the Irish Sea which is driving a wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Mr Sefcovic made several key concessions in his speech – but insisted the ECJ would retain its role.
The Professor of Economics at City, University of London told Express.co.uk: “Boris Johnson and David Frost must not give way on this critical point.
“Not only must a revised Protocol remove any role for the ECJ, it must also introduce ‘Smart Border 2.0’ technology at the Border.
He warned: “There will never be a proper Brexit otherwise. In addition, there will be constant tension over Northern Ireland – with the EU endlessly interfering in our internal affairs.”
Neither Lord Frost nor Mr Johnson could back down and allow the EU to “water down” the Command Paper published in July, Prof Blake said, not even in the light of concessions such as the EU backing down in the so-called ‘sausage war’ by permitting ‘national identity goods’ such as sausages to enter Northern Ireland.
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Prof Blake added: “The EU is offering no more now than the ‘maximum facilitation’ proposal for a post-Brexit customs agreement that the UK offered in 2018.
“This included fast-tracking imports and exports from recognised Authorised Economic Operators and the bilateral development of innovative IT solutions that avoid the need for goods vehicles to stop for border inspections. The EU turned this down.”
The EU remained determined to pressurise the UK Government into implementing the Protocol while dismissing any consideration of ‘alternative arrangements’, as Article 13(8) of the Protocol requires it to do, Prof Blake pointed out.
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He cited as an example the ‘Smart Border 2.0’ idea proposed by Lars Karlsson, a former director of the World Customs Organisation and Deputy Director General of Swedish Customs.
Such a system would create a frictionless ultra-high-tech invisible border between Northern Ireland and the Republic ‒ involving automatic number plate recognition, GPS tracking, radio-frequency identification, specialised smartphone apps and ePassports.
Prof Blake said: “British and Irish Customs officials began working on a simplified electronic system which would have managed all imports and exports, as well as a solution to stop illegal cross-border trade in precisely the same way they had done with other illegal transactions, like red diesel.
“But Irish premier, Leo Varadkar, under instructions from the EU, stopped these talks.”
He explained: “This was because the EU does not see the NIP as the way to maintain peace in Northern Ireland, but as a tool to coerce the UK into following EU regulations on animal and plant heath and on State aid in perpetuity.
“The EU wants to interpret the Protocol in any way it chooses and then force the UK to go to the European Court of Justice (ie the EU’s own court) for a judgment on whether the EU’s interpretation is valid.
“This is completely unacceptable.
Any disputes about the Protocol must go to independent international arbitration – as would happen in the case of disagreements over the Trade and Cooperation Agreement which manages the remainder of the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and EU.”
On Friday Lord Frost said the European Union had made encouraging moves towards resolving a dispute over the Protocol.
Speaking after a meeting with Mr Sefcovic, he said: “I think the EU has definitely made an effort in pushing beyond where they typically go in these areas.
“And we’re quite encouraged by that.
“But obviously there is still quite a big gap. And that’s what we’ve got to work through today and in the future.”
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