European Commission chief urges compromise by both sides on NI Protocol but 'no' to renegotiation

Fri 10 Sept 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

European Commission chief urges compromise by both sides on Northern Ireland Protocol but ‘no’ to renegotiation

The EU and UK will both need to make further compromises on the Northern Ireland Protocol, according to the European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic.

Speaking this morning (Friday 10 September) at Queen’s University in Belfast, Sefcovic hinted that the EU would do more to “further ease the supply of goods”.

Barriers

However, he said that the barriers created by Brexit and the Protocol would not disappear, reports the BBC.

“While we will continue looking for solutions to minimise the effects of Brexit on your everyday lives, we will never be able to remove them entirely - such are the consequences of Brexit and of the choices of the UK government,” he said.

Instability threat

The Standard reports Sefcovic’s comments that an attempt to renegotiate the post-Brexit agreement would cause “instability, uncertainty and unpredictability” in Northern Ireland.

“Bear in mind it has already taken us five years to get to this point,” he added.

However, the vice president has pledged to do “whatever it takes” to ensure that the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland is not disrupted because of the protocol.

As covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, this week the UK announced indefinite delays to the implementation of new post-Brexit checks in Northern Ireland.

Time to negotiate

The effective “standstill” to the Protocol will mean a delay to checks on goods such as meat, fish and dairy products going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The new regime was due to start on 1 October and would have required food products to carry Export Health Certificates (EHCs).

It is hoped the standstill will provide time and space to advance negotiations without the threat of a looming deadline.

An earlier easement of the introduction of these checks was announced by the UK in March because firms were not ready. The unilateral decision by the UK led to legal action by the EU which has been hanging over negotiations on how to implement the protocol more effectively.