EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic warns UK against unilaterally changing Northern Ireland Protocol.
EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic on Monday warned the UK against unilaterally changing the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit Agreement.
“It is with significant concern that we take note of today’s decision by the UK government to table legislation disapplying core elements of the (Northern Ireland) Protocol,” Sefcovic said.
“Unilateral action is damaging to mutual trust,” he said, adding that the EU executive body will assess the draft that removes the checks on a variety of goods transported to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Referring to British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ comments demanding the EU to “be willing to change the Protocol itself,” Sefcovic underlined that it is “unrealistic” to renegotiate the agreement.
He explained that during the Brexit negotiations, the Northern Ireland Protocol was the only joint solution to “protect the hard-earned gains of the peace process in Northern Ireland while addressing the challenges created by” UK’s decision to leave the EU.
“Any renegotiation would simply bring further legal uncertainty for people and businesses in Northern Ireland,” Sefcovic stated, stressing that the bloc “will not renegotiate the Protocol.”
He said that the EU will continue with the legal action initiated against the UK last year, and may begin new infringement procedures.
Sefcovic also promised to present new details on the “flexible interpretation” of the agreement and durable solutions in favor of the people and businesses of Northern Ireland.
The EU and the UK have been in a dispute for years over the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit agreement which established a special trade regime.
To avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in respect of the Good Friday Agreement, parties agreed that Northern Ireland would remain a part of the EU’s customs regime and the UK would apply customs checks.
Last October, the European Commission proposed a set of new measures on simplifying the certification system and reducing control for goods transported from other parts of Great Britain to Northern Ireland in the area of public, plant, and animal health.
In April, the bloc also adopted a legislation allowing the British government to supply medicine to Northern Ireland on their terms.
The UK left the EU after 47 years of membership on Jan. 31, 2020.