Article 16 looms over Northern Ireland Protocol impasse as UK and France restart fish talks

Fri 5 Nov 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The EU has rejected a British demand to end any role for European court judges in Northern Ireland – a key sticking point between the UK and EU in negotiating changes to the NI Protocol.

Speaking on Wednesday evening, the European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans said it was “extremely well-known in London” that the demand to ditch the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could not be met. 

 The Independent reports Timmermans’ comments as the UK and EU are involved in dialogue about how to reshape the Protocol.

ECJ hurdle

The EU has responded to the UK’s summer command paper on how the Protocol should change with its own proposals. It said it will cut half of customs checks into NI from GB, reduce SPS checks, and ease the flow of medicines, as previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update.

However, the ECJ’s role has proved a sticking point.

Meanwhile, talks between the British and French governments to settle a post-Brexit fishing row have ended in stalemate, reports Guardian

However, Lord Frost and French Europe minister Clement Beaune have agreed to meet again next week to continue discussions, reports the Times

Restarting fish talks

Politico says the two sides will “restart the political dialogue”, with technical discussions on fishing licences expected to restart this weekend or early next week.

In a statement, a UK spokesperson said the two sides “set out their positions and concerns” and “discussed the range of difficulties arising from the application of the agreements between the UK and the EU”. 

Following his meeting with Beaune, Frost is to meet his counterpart Maros Sefcovic in Brussels today to assess what progress has been made with the Protocol, reports RTE.

Frost has claimed the conditions for using Article 16 – allowing parts of the deal to be suspended – have been met.

The Guardian says the UK could trigger the article as soon as next week, after the COP26 conference has finished.