The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Maros Shevkovic, has warned the United Kingdom that the current free trade agreement was conditional on the Brexit divorce treaty, including the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Speaking to Dublin City University’s Brexit Institute, Mr Shevkovic said the two agreements were «intrinsically linked» and that one «could not exist without the other».
He added, «Settlement of divorce was and remains a prerequisite for our future relationship.
«On this basis we negotiated, concluded and ratified the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on Christmas Eve last year.»
There has been speculation that if the UK triggers Article 16 of the Protocol, the EU could retaliate by suspending or terminating the Technical Assistance Act.
However, Mr Shevkovic acknowledged that there had been «unintended consequences» from implementing the protocol in Northern Ireland.
Some of it, he said, was the result of the type of Brexit the UK government had chosen.
Mr. Shevkovic is currently meeting with his British counterpart David Frost for an important meeting in Brussels.
In his online address before the meeting, he said the EU would not renegotiate the protocol, but would find flexibility in its legal framework.
He called on the United Kingdom to respond in kind to what he called a generous offer by the European Union to reduce controls and controls on goods transported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Mr Shevkovic said the EU is offering “further facilitation and simplification of eastern/western trade in customs – eg, a permanent 50% reduction in existing paperwork.
“These measures will create a kind of ‘fast corridor’ which will greatly facilitate trade between all parties. A win-win situation.
«It is a unique and entirely new model for how goods are transported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, and one that will enhance opportunities for individuals and businesses alike.»
The UK has so far cast doubt on the EU’s offer to cut agricultural food and customs checks.
The Vice-President of the European Commission said the EU has listened to Northern Ireland’s businesses and civil society and is now proposing to improve information sharing on how the Protocol will be implemented.
This would «make the application of the Protocol more transparent, while at the same time respecting the constitutional order of the United Kingdom.»
A website will also be created to present the EU legislation in force in Northern Ireland in a clear and comprehensive manner.
“We are also ready to establish a dialogue between the stakeholders in Northern Ireland (authorities, civil society and businesses) and the Commission,” said Mr. Shevkovic.
“This will include the creation of organized groups with the participation of experts to discuss relevant and important EU measures to implement the Protocol.
«We are also prepared to invite relevant stakeholders in Northern Ireland to attend some of the meetings of the ad hoc committees, if that is acceptable to the UK.»
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