Newsnight: 'We care about Northern Ireland' says EU Ambassador
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Columnist Mujtaba Rahman, tweeting today, made the remarks in relation to the EU’s latest offer over the long-standing issue of trade flowing through Northern Ireland. Earlier this month, the EU set out changes which it believes will help ease the major source of tension in the Brexit negotiations. The EU’s proposals aim for an 80 percent reduction in checks on food products – though they say will not be renegotiating the protocol.
It would allow chilled meats to enter Northern Ireland from Great Britain too, in a bid to resolve issues with supply.
Brexit minister Lord Frost is meeting Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission today to assess the progress of negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Ms Rahman, a Politico columnist, said: “Gossip in Westminster is that Frost is on a personal crusade vis EU.
“Another minister like Gove would probably accept EU offer – or use it as basis to compromise.”
Initial talks were described as “constructive” by UK officials.
The disagreement stems from the terms of the Brexit deal, which prevents a hard Irish border by keeping Northern Ireland inside the EU’s single market for goods.
The protocol agreed to Northern Ireland – to prevent border checks – continuing to follow EU rules on product standards.
But instead checks would take place upon goods entering Northern Ireland from England, Scotland and Wales.
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Before the first round of talks, Lord Frost claimed the current system was “not working” and that failing to renegotiate would be a “historic misjudgement”.
He said: “We would not go down this road gratuitously or with any particular pleasure.
“Maybe there is a world in which the Protocol could have worked, more sensitively implemented.”
Lord Frost called on Brussels to show “the same ambition and willingness” to resolve the issue.
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But he also warned the EU must be ready to agree to “significant change” as it “takes two” to mend the “fractious” UK-EU relationship.
Further tension is boiling between the UK and the EU over French fishing rights.
The row stems from France’s claim that the UK has broken the December 2020 Brexit agreement by only granting 200 fishing licences to French fishermen.
Lord Frost expressed his views towards France earlier this week when he took to social media to respond to threats made by French officials, describing their position as “very disappointing”.
An ultimatum was previously issued by Paris threatening sanctions if the UK Government did not give more French vessels the right to access UK waters.
Brexit Minister Lord Frost tweeted: “It is very disappointing that France has felt it necessary to make threats late this evening against the UK fishing industry and seemingly traders more broadly.”
In a second tweet, Lord Frost added: “As we have had no formal communication from the French Government on this matter we will be seeking urgent clarification of their plans,” he said.
“We will consider what further action is necessary in that light.”
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this week, MP George Eustice called the threats “disappointing and disproportionate”.
He also rejected claims that the UK was failing to cooperate in the post-Brexit relationship, noting that – of the 1,673 licences issued – 736 have been for French vessels.
Of the 121 licences for boats to fish in territorial waters, which lie six to 12 nautical miles off Britain’s shores – where the row currently centres- as many as 103 have been for French fishermen, said Mr Eustice
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