Brexit: EU "looking to go the extra mile” with proposal over Northern Ireland protocol standoff
A French former Europe minister has said the EU is “looking to go the extra mile” with its proposal aimed at resolving the political stand-off over Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.
Co-chairman of the Conservative Party Oliver Dowden also confirmed the Government will “engage fully constructively” with the EU proposals on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Asked if the EU proposals were enough, Downden told Sky News: “Well clearly we’ll wait to receive the full announcement from the EU and I know that Lord Frost, as he said yesterday, and the Government as a whole will engage fully, constructively with these proposals.
“It is though important that there is fundamental change to the Northern Ireland Protocol so we’ll be looking to see that, but let’s see exactly what the EU comes up with.”
“There are many, many international treaties that have independent courts and arbitration mechanisms for them that don’t belong to one party or the other and I think it’s appropriate that we should engage with the EU to see how we can resolve that.
“Because in the end I think the UK and the EU, we surely are united in the same position which is that we want to maintain a stability in Northern Ireland, we want to ensure the continuity of the Belfast Agreement and all other progress that we’ve made and there is a problem with this Protocol at the moment.”
Former French MEP Nathalie Loiseau told the BBC’s Today programme: “I’m comfortable with the fact that the (European) Commission is looking to go the extra mile, and fix the problems and try to find a solution within the protocol.
“I think pragmatism and good will is really on the EU’s side and I sincerely hope that the (British) posturing of denying the benefits of the protocol (ends), because there are many benefits of the protocol.”
She was also criticised UK Brexit negotiator Lord Frost for producing a deal he now disagrees with adding: “What can we think of David Frost negotiating the protocol, signing the protocol and pushing hard for the British Parliament to ratify the protocol if now he says that he doesn’t agree with the protocol? That’s a big problem.”
On the idea that the Brexit deal in relation to Ireland was negotiated hastily and needs revisiting, she said: “This is not accurate. It took months and there was another offer on the table when Theresa May was prime minister which was called the British backstop, the Irish backstop at that time.
“It was rejected by some members of the Tory party and then we came to the Irish protocol but not in 14 hours, it took months to negotiate it, and it was the very same person, Lord Frost, who says he doesn’t agree with the protocol.”
The EU is expected to outline a range of proposals aimed at resolving the political stand-off over Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.
European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic has promised the measures will be “very far-reaching” and address issues over the movement of agri-food goods and medicines across the Irish Sea.