Brexit statement released: Gove and EU chief to hold urgent summit after showdown over NI

Brexit statement released: Gove and EU chief to hold urgent summit after showdown over NI

Michael Gove warns EU has opened Article 16 ‘Pandora’s box’

But , Northern Ireland’s First Minister and leader of the DUP, has questioned the bloc’s commitment to resolving the difficulties – while urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol. European Commission Vice President said on Wednesday he had a “constructive” meeting on trade issues affecting Northern Ireland with

The meeting “committed to the proper implementation of Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol and focused on pragmatic solutions to make it work”, Mr Sefcovic said in a brief statement on social media.

A subsequent statement issued by the UK Government added: “Further to the meeting of the Joint Committee co-chairs on 11 February 2021, the EU and the UK also took stock of the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and of work to find pragmatic solutions.

“The parties acknowledged the importance of joint action to make the Protocol work for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland.

“In that spirit, the EU and UK reiterated their full commitment to the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions, and to the proper implementation of the Protocol.

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Maros Sefcovic

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Maros Sefcovic (Image: GETTY)

Maros Sefcovic

European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic (Image: GETTY)

“Building on the recent outreach by the Joint Committee co-chairs, there would be further joint engagement with business groups and other stakeholders in Northern Ireland.

“The UK and the EU underlined their shared commitment to giving effect to those solutions agreed through the Joint Committee on 17 December 2020, without delay.

“The UK noted that it would provide a new operational plan with respect to supermarkets and their suppliers, alongside additional investment in digital solutions for traders in accordance with the Protocol.”

Referring to the future summit, the statement added:”Noting the need for ongoing engagement and the shared desire to act at pace, the UK and EU agreed that a further Joint Committee would be held to provide further steers and where appropriate approvals, and would liaise on timings.”

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Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s First Minister (Image: GETTY)

It is clear Maros Sefcovic and his team is not serious

Arlene Foster

Both parties welcomed the progress made on citizens’ rights in recent weeks in implementing the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens in the UK under the Withdrawal Agreement, and reiterated the importance of communication and support to the most vulnerable.

Despite the optimistic tone, Mr Foster said it was time for the UK Government to “act unilaterally” over the Brexit protocol, questioning Mr Sefcovic’s commitment.

She said: “The grace period ends next month, yet the European Union refused to recognise the problems or offer any sensible solutions.

“It is clear Maros Sefcovic and his team is not serious.

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Maros Sefcovic tweet

Maros Sefcovic’s tweet (Image: GETTY)

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson should tear up the NI Protocol, said Mrs Foster (Image: GETTY)

“From 29 January until 24 February the European Union has prevaricated, dragged its feet and closed its eyes to the serious crisis within our supply chain.”

The Prime Minister had assured the House of Commons there would be unfettered trade within the United Kingdom – but the Northern Ireland Protocol had “completely ruptured” the flow of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, Mrs Foster claimed.

She added: “Whether from a constitutional or economic point of view, Northern Ireland cannot be cut off from our main trading partner by a protocol which not a single unionist party in Northern Ireland supports.

Brexit timeline

Brexit timeline (Image: Express)

“With a stubborn and inflexible response from Brussels it is now a matter for the Government to step up and protect the United Kingdom internal market.

“The Government should have listened intently as Maros Sefcovic explained the solution to problems with goods flowing from GB-NI was for companies in Northern Ireland to source their goods from within the European Union.

“Such a disruption of trade within the UK internal market should not be tolerated by the Government.

“It is offensive to the very core principles of the United Kingdom.”

Lord David Frost

Lord David Frost has now been appointed to the Cabinet (Image: GETTY)

Mr Gove has yet to tweet about the meeting, in contrast to Mr Sefvocic.

Widespread reports earlier this week suggested UK Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost, who has been now bee appointed to the Cabinet, believes Mr Gove has been too soft on the issue of Northern Ireland.

One unnamed senior Cabinet Office official told politics website Politico: “The EU have shown on their aggressive approach on vaccines that the PM needs his most skilled EU negotiator running these relationships.

“Because the EU has made clear it still sees everything as an aggressive negotiation.”

(More to follow)

Published at Wed, 24 Feb 2021 20:05:00 +0000