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Brexit: Von der Leyen rejects Boris Johnson bid to renegotiate Irish protocol | Brexit


The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has rejected Boris Johnson’s transfer to renegotiate the Northern Irish protocol, elevating the temperature of a simmering Brexit row.

“The EU will continue to be creative and flexible within the protocol framework. But we will not renegotiate,” she stated after a name with the prime minister on Thursday.

EU sources stated the decision lasted about half-hour, and Von der Leyen made clear they spoke at Johnson’s request.

While not a shock, her refusal – lower than 24 hours after the federal government set out a plan to renegotiate a core a part of the Brexit deal – is a blow to Johnson, who made repeated false claims that there could be no customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The EU has united towards the UK blueprint to rewrite the Northern Irish protocol, a hard-fought settlement with Johnson in 2019 that created a customs border within the Irish Sea.

In an official readout of the prime minister’s name with Von der Leyen, a Downing Street spokesperson repeated the UK authorities’s case for renegotiation. “The prime minister set out that the way the protocol was currently operating was unsustainable. Solutions could not be found through the existing mechanisms of the protocol. That was why we had set out proposals for significant changes to it.

“He urged the EU to look at those proposals seriously and work with the UK on them. There is a huge opportunity to find reasonable, practical solutions to the difficulties facing people and businesses in Northern Ireland, and thereby to put the relationship between the UK and the EU on a better footing. They agreed to remain in touch.”

The prime minister made the identical factors in a separate name with Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Johnson’s spokesperson stated the prime minister “didn’t expect the EU to take such a purist and maximalist approach” to implementing the protocol however couldn’t level to any breaches by Brussels of the settlement.

“There are real life issues that people are facing on the ground in Northern Ireland that need to be addressed,” the spokesperson stated, including that the federal government had launched a session supposed to “slash Brexit red tape”.

Johnson’s spokesperson stated the prime minister didn’t need the protocol scrapped “at this time”.

The UK’s try to renegotiate has exasperated EU decision-makers, who’ve already proposed adjustments to reduce the affect on Northern Irish residents. Further tweaks stay attainable, however the EU has dominated out a full-scale renegotiation.

A #Brexit reminder: The Northern Ireland Protocol was negotiated by the 🇬🇧 authorities. It was signed by the 🇬🇧 authorities. It was ratified by the 🇬🇧 Parliament. Its penalties had been recognized.

Is it an excessive amount of to count on the 🇬🇧 to stand by what it has negotiated, signed and ratified?

— Sebastian Fischer (@SFischer_EU) July 21, 2021

In an unusually blunt assertion, a German authorities spokesperson tweeted: “Is it too much to expect the [UK] to stand by what it has negotiated, signed and ratified.”

One EU diplomat stated the Brexit minister, David Frost, had produced “a half-baked proposal” with tough ideas. Lord Frost’s suggestion that merchants needs to be trusted to transfer items between Great Britain and Northern Ireland with minimal oversight is opposed by Brussels, which thinks such a regime could possibly be exploited by smugglers and corporations enjoying quick and free with two units of guidelines.

The aim to rip the European courtroom of justice out of the protocol has additionally fallen on stony floor. EU sources argue that Frost has incorrectly characterised the courtroom’s function within the protocol, exaggerating its significance.

The protocol underscores that the courtroom has sole accountability for adjudicating on questions of EU legislation, a degree officers say is a basis stone of the EU’s authorized order that can’t be modified.

The settlement additionally permits the British authorities to be sued within the European courtroom of justice (ECJ), with one authorized case already lodged by Brussels over alleged breaches.

UK sources suppose the ECJ is uncommon in such a world treaty and worry the federal government’s margin for manoeuvre will likely be crimped by what’s seen as the acute inflexibility of the EU system.

Talks will proceed between the 2 sides. “It would be a mistake to dismiss the political concerns, simply because [the UK] signed up to this,” stated the diplomat, “although many of the concerns have been known since the beginning.”

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