‘Bending over backwards for you!’ Desperate EU pleads with UK not to trigger Article 16

Northern Ireland: Timmermans says 'solution is within reach'

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Mr Timmermans insisted “a solution is in reach” and that the EU have shown a “willingness to find a compromise” over the failed protocol as he said he hoped Britain did not trigger Article 16 which would see the UK take control of the trade carnage which has gripped Northern Ireland.

Speaking to ITV’s Robert Peston on Wednesday, Mr Timmermans said: “I think Mr Frost knows very well that this is not possible for the European Union. I know he knows full well that whenever the internal market is involved, the ultimate arbitrator is the European Court of Justice. 

“This is, I think, extremely well-known in London and instead of talking about red lines, I think it would be more productive to talk about the ideas the European Union came up with.

“Ideas that were welcomed in Northern Ireland, how to make things more practicable and easier to deal with…

“And I think those ideas which are meant to make life easier on the business community in Northern Ireland, especially on the citizens on the island of Ireland, should be embraced by the British government, rather than talking about red lines.”

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But when asked about the risks of Boris Johnson and Chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost triggering Article 16 Mr Timmermans was clear he hoped “this doesn’t happen, let’s hope we can find a way out.”

While in an eye opening moment the Commission Vice President claimed “I believe the European Union has shown, the European Commission has shown clear willingness to find a compromise” on the Protocol.

He added: “I think we’ve been bending over backwards to offer a solution to the practicalities that people encountered in Northern Ireland.

“Let’s focus on the people and the businesses in Northern Ireland instead of trying to score points off each other on certain issues. Let’s try and solve this. I think a solution is within reach.” 

João Vale de Almeida on Northern Ireland protocol

The comments follow mounting pressure from Prime Minister Boris Johnson who has already said he believes the conditions for triggering Article 16 of the protocol have been met.

While Brexit Minister Lord Frost has also warned using the article could be the only way for the UK to bring about changes to the protocol.

It comes as the EU has offered to massively scale down the number of checks on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland but the UK wants more from the negotiations and is happy to take full control if they believe the circumstances demand it.

Talks on the Northern Ireland resumed in Brussels on Wednesday following negotiations last week in London which put an end to a stalemate over the crisis.

One demand the UK is requesting is to see the European Court of Justice removed from policing the protocol, a move Brussels are refusing to budge on.

One Brussels official told Express.co.uk: “[the UK triggering Article 16] would be a big crisis, but we are ready for it. There are levers we can pull.”

Article 16 of the NI protocol sets out the process for taking unilateral “safeguard” measures if either the EU or UK concludes the operation of the deal is leading to serious problems.

Enacting the article would result in suspending parts of the deal – the article states the scope and duration of these should be limited to what is “strictly necessary”. Any action taken by the UK Government will likely result in Brussels enacting retaliatory measures, such as tariffs on British imports.

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