Lord Frost provides update on Northern Ireland protocol
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German MEP David McAllister insisted the Brexit divorce deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border would not be renegotiated. It comes after Brexit minister Lord Frost stopped short of ripping up the agreement but said it needed “significant changes”. Mr McAllister said: “Instead of putting the Protocol into question, it is about finding solutions for the outstanding issues.
“The implementation of the protocol relies on joint action. It should not be undermined by unilateral measures.
“Permanent flexibilities are not acceptable. The Protocol was painstakingly negotiated under high political pressure, ensuring to minimise disruption and top help local communities and businesses.
“It cannot be renegotiated – it is part of the solution of a problem that is Brexit.”
Mr McAllister will tomorrow host a meeting of the EU Parliament’s Brexit committee with the bloc’s chief negotiator Maros Sefcovic.
EU Commission vice-president Mr Sefcovic is expected to also reject Lord Frost’s plans when he speaks on the issue later on today.
In a statement to Parliament, Lord Frost urged Brussels to renegotiate the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Brexit minister said ministers want the bloc to give up its rights to take disputes over the border fix to the European Court of Justice and allow goods that don’t meet EU standards to be sold in the area.
He also called for fewer checks to be carried out on goods crossing the Irish sea, insisting that they accounted for just 20 percent of all EU border checks for food and animals.
But Lord Frost stopped short of saying the UK would trigger Article 16 to override the protocol despite claiming the conditions to activate it had been met.
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He said: “It is plainly clear that the circumstances exist to justify the use of Article 16.
“Nevertheless, we have concluded that this is not the right moment to do so.”
The peer added: “Put simply, we cannot go on as we are. As we’ve sought to operate the protocol it is clear that these burdens have been the source of considerable and ongoing disruption to lives and livelihoods.
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“We’ve seen reductions in supermarket product lines, we’ve seen more than 200 suppliers decide they would no longer sell to Northern Ireland. And we’ve seen difficulties, not just on the famous chilled meats, but also on medicines, on pets, or movements of live animals on seeds and plants.
“What is worse, these burdens will get worse, not improve over time as grace periods expire leaving businesses facing evermore unsustainable burdens.”
Lord Frost insisted the Government’s preferred outcome was for a negotiated solution to be found with the EU.
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