EU invocation of Article 16 'ill-judged' and 'wrong', says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said the European Union’s decision to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol following a dispute over vaccine supply was "ill-judged”.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing on Monday and commenting on the incident for the first time publicly, the First Minister responded to criticism she was not explicitly critical on the EU on Friday.

The EU had chosen to invoke Article 16 on Friday, which would have seen Northern Ireland considered an export territory in terms of vaccines from the EU and Ireland, but was forced to perform a U-turn within hours of the decision.

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In response to the diplomatic incident, Ms Sturgeon had retweeted a statement from Constitution Secretary Michael Russell, but did not release a statement herself.

She said: “Newsflash, I don’t spend 24 hours a day on Twitter.

"In fact, Twitter is a bit of cesspit sometimes, so I try to focus on more productive things more often and actually limit my time on Twitter.

"Don’t assume, and I think we all fall foul of this sometimes, that if it is not said on Twitter, it doesn’t exist. I think I retweeted Michael Russell on the issue.

"The Scottish Government had made clear that we thought the position and the action the EU took on Friday was wrong, it was ill-judged, and thankfully they very quickly recognised that themselves and amended it.

"So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because I’m not tweeting something, I’m not thinking of or it doesn’t exist.

"Real life is much bigger and wider than what happens on Twitter.”

The EU’s decision was swiftly reversed following condemnation from London, Dublin and Belfast.

Speaking on Monday, Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney said the protocol should not have been touched without consulting the British and Irish governments.

He said: “I think it was a mistake that everybody recognises should not have happened.

“I mean in simple terms, you do not touch the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland without full consultation with the people who are most impacted by it.”

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