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EU vows response with 'all measures' if UK modifies Northern Ireland Protocol

UK's announcement that it will alter special protocol of Brexit Agreement endangers EU-UK trade relations, Irish peace process, says EU Commissioner Sefcovic

Agnes Szucs   | 17.05.2022
EU vows response with 'all measures' if UK modifies Northern Ireland Protocol

BRUSSELS

The European Commission vice-president said on Tuesday that the EU will respond with “all measures at its disposal” if the UK passes a law modifying the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“Should the UK decide to move ahead with a bill disapplying constitutive elements of the Protocol as announced today by the UK government, the EU will need to respond with all measures at its disposal,” Maros Sefcovic wrote in a statement.

He also stressed that the UK’s recent announcement of the legislation “raises significant concerns” because it would entail a unilateral modification to the Brexit Treaty agreed jointly by the UK and the EU and endangers trade relations and the Irish peace process as well.

Sefcovic underlined that the EU remains ready to continue negotiations with the UK, but insists on finding solutions within the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Earlier on Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary Lizz Truss announced that she will propose new legislation to alter the Northern Ireland Protocol.

She said the bill will be “consistent with our obligations under international law” and showed openness to further talks with the EU.

The EU and the UK have been in a dispute for years over the application of the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit agreement, which established a special trade regime.

With the intention to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in respect of the Good Friday Agreement, the parties agreed that Northern Ireland would remain a part of the EU’s customs regime and the UK would apply customs checks for goods coming from Northern Ireland.

However, the agreement turned out to be difficult to apply in real life.

Last October, the European Commission proposed a set of new measures to simplify the certification system and reduce controls for goods transported from other parts of Great Britain to Northern Ireland in the area of public, plant, and animal health.

In April, the bloc also adopted legislation allowing the British government to supply medicine to Northern Ireland on their own terms.

The UK left the EU on Jan. 31, 2020, after 47 years of membership.

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