EU using Northern Ireland as Brexit 'whipping boy'
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After holding talks with EU Ambassador to the UK, Joao Vale de Almeida, and Lord Frost, the leader of the DUP, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson insisted there is “growing acceptance” the Northern Ireland protocol has failed. Due to the damage it is causing to Northern Ireland, Sir Jeffrey called on the EU to alter the agreement or risk undoing the Belfast Agreement. He also questioned whether the EU truly wants to maintain the peace agreement due to its insistence on implementing the protocol and its consequences for Northern Ireland.
Indeed, Sir Jeffrey claimed some parties who insisted on the full implementation of the protocol had now admitted it is not sustainable.
As reported by the News Letter, he said: “The Government recognises the conditions exist for Article 16 to be triggered.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol is damaging Northern Ireland economically and constitutionally.
“It is damaging the Belfast Agreement – the same deal the European Union say they want to protect. The Protocol is putting future progress in Northern Ireland in jeopardy.
“Whilst timelines are progress, this is a time for action as every day is causing further damage politically and economically.
“There is a growing acceptance that the Protocol has failed and change is required.
“Even some parties who were recently demanding ‘rigorous implementation’ of the Protocol have accepted it is not sustainable.
“Whilst there have been signs of movement on the part of the EU, now is the time for action and real progress.
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“Further delay only harms the people of Northern Ireland who are faced with reduced choice on the shelves and higher prices at the till.
“Whilst we recognise the need for arrangements that can protect the EU Single Market, our priority is to secure the integrity of the UK internal market.
“This must be recognised and protected in any new arrangements. If the European Union is serious about protecting the Belfast Agreement then they must accept that the Irish Sea border must go.”
The Northern Ireland protocol was created in order to maintain the Good Friday Agreement and stop the creation of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
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However, it culminated in placing Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market despite being in the UK customs territory.
This means checks must be made on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
In light of these issues, the UK has indicated its intention to trigger Article 16 of the Brexit deal.
This allows either side to take unilateral action if the Brexit deal causes undue harm.
At the Tory Party Conference in Manchester this week, Lord Forst warned the Government may use the instrument if the EU does not change its position on the protocol.
So far, the EU has refused to change its position on the protocol and insisted it must be implemented in full.
During his speech, Lord Frost said he will present legal text to EU officials after putting forward proposals to amend the protocol during the summer.
Ahead of the submission of the legal texts, Lord Frost has called for significant changes to be made to the protocol.
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