The European Union has turned down UK's request to rewrite its previous agreement, including post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit settlement backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and finally signed the UK’s withdrawal from the EU four years after voters supported their resignation.
However, Northern Ireland companies say the deal is damaging trade. In addition, some pro-British groups have protested that they see weakened relations with Britain.
Brexit Minister David Frost told Congress last week that “we can’t continue on its own”.
Frost said London wants a new “balance” to end the EU’s oversight of the deal, and Britain has the right to deviate from that part.
However, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefchovic said Johnson and Frost had negotiated an agreement.
“We do not agree to renegotiate the Protocol,” he said. “Respecting international legal obligations is paramount.”
The Protocol was aimed at ensuring the peace brought to Northern Ireland by the 1998 US-mediated peace agreement.
This is to maintain the border with the United Kingdom without opening the door to the EU’s 450 million single market via neighboring Ireland.
In fact, the agreement requires a check of goods sent between the UK mainland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the EU Customs Region.
This oversight is a burden to businesses and is despised by those who claim that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK.
The final Brexit agreement was approved by the British Parliament in December 2020.
Frost said the Northern Ireland Protocol was not functioning as the UK expected and could be revoked under Article 16 of the Protocol.
“Nevertheless … we concluded that it wasn’t the right moment to do so,” Frost said. “We find an opportunity to go another way to find a new way to seek an agreement with the EU through negotiations, a new balance of arrangements covering Northern Ireland, for the benefit of all. I am. “