After riots and business interruptions hit Northern Ireland, the British government asked the European Union to renegotiate the Northern Ireland trade arrangements after Brexit.
The European Union has long insisted that London should implement the agreements reached in the long-running Brexit agreement.
London has not suspended the so-called Northern Ireland Agreement, which requires inspections of goods transiting through the British mainland.
But Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State Brandon Lewis told parliament on Wednesday that although the United Kingdom had negotiated the agreement in “good faith,” the EU’s use in the real world has brought a “considerable and continuing burden”.
“In short, we can’t continue like we do now,” he said.
Lewis said the United Kingdom is seeking a “standstill period” for the agreement, including legal actions taken by the European Union, rather than a temporary grace period for border inspections.
He urged a new dialogue to “handle the issues in the round.”
“We urge the European Union to look at it in a new light, and to work with us to seize this opportunity to give our relationship a firm foothold.”
By effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market, the agreement has been arduously negotiated to avoid a hard border with Ireland.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sevkovic said on Wednesday that the EU will seek “creative solutions” for the trade difficulties between the UK and Northern Ireland due to Brexit, but will not renegotiate the UK on Northern Ireland. Brexit agreement.
“For the benefit of all communities in Northern Ireland, we are ready to continue to seek creative solutions within the framework of the protocol. However, we will not agree to renegotiate the protocol,” he said.
Northern Ireland experienced 30 years of sectarian conflict until a peace agreement was reached in 1998. Turbulent This year, it partially violated the protocol.
Many pro-British unionists believe that this is a de facto boundary between the Irish Sea and the British mainland, and say they feel betrayed.
In its proposal, the United Kingdom urges the EU to stop extensive inspections and pay more direct attention to goods that are “real” at risk of entering its single market through Northern Ireland.
The government insists that for all other commodities, a slight adjustment is needed to maintain the overall status of Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom.
It also hopes to abolish any supervisory duties of the European Court of Justice.
Since Britain’s complete departure from the European Union at the beginning of this year, the new red tape has been frustrated, and several British companies have suspended sales to Northern Ireland or offered reduced options.
‘Gap on the shelf’
The retail chain Marks and Spencer said that under current agreements, there will be a “blank on the shelf” in Northern Ireland this Christmas.
According to Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin in a telephone call on Tuesday that the agreement “caused significant damage” and change was essential.
However, the European Union, which seeks to maintain the integrity of its single market, said the UK has been acting maliciously and fully understands the agreements it has signed.
Brussels did not immediately comment, but European Commission President Ursula von der Lein denied last week that the EU was too dogmatic in applying the protocol.
Irish Minister of European Affairs Thomas Byrne stated that Dublin will “listen carefully to the opinions of the British government” but insisted that any remedy must respect this difficult agreement.
“We are willing to discuss any creative solutions within the scope of the agreement,” he told BBC Radio.
“But we must also admit that the UK has decided to withdraw from the EU single market, apply trade rules, and impose red tape on goods leaving the UK and goods entering the UK.”
The protracted controversy over the agreement is drawing further attention from the US government of President Joe Biden.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that the government hopes that the two sides will “negotiate within the existing mechanism when differences arise.”
Biden’s climate envoy and former Secretary of State John Kerry told BBC Radio that the Irish-American president was “deeply caught up in this problem”.
Kerry said that both he and Secretary of State Anthony Brinken are “firmly committed to ensuring that the (Good Friday) agreement is established and finally peace is achieved.”