UK Brexit Minister David Frost said on Monday that current talks with the European Union over the implementation of the post-Brexit protocol designed to avoid a physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are not "hugely productive."
LONDON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 17th May, 2021) UK Brexit Minister David Frost said on Monday that current talks with the European Union over the implementation of the post-Brexit protocol designed to avoid a physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are not "hugely productive."
"At the moment we are talking to the [European] Commission about the range of practical issues that have arisen from trying to operate the protocol. I would say many of those issues don't themselves go to the hearts of the problems, but we are talking to them and trying to find solutions. There's a bit of momentum in that discussion, it's not hugely productive, and we'll have to try to see how far we can take it," Frost told the House of Commons' European Scrutiny Committee.
As part of the withdrawal agreement, Northern Ireland remained in the European single market and customs unions after the UK left the bloc for good on December 31, 2020. Although there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, all goods and animal-based products coming from the rest of the UK territories must be checked upon arrival to Northern Ireland to comply with the EU regulations on food and animals.
Brussels has consistently said that the Northern Ireland Protocol is the only way to maintain both the Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of its single market, but the implementation of the deal has sparked criticism and protests from loyalists who fear the deal could damage the UK sovereignty over the province, while others think it might affect the fragile political stability achieved with the 1998 peace accords.
In his address to the UK parliament's select committee, Frost claimed, however, that the EU is not fully fulfilling its obligations to minimize trade barriers for goods coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
"We want to see a bit more flexibility in the way this arrangement is implemented," the minister, who was the UKs chief negotiator of the post-Brexit trade agreement between London and Brussels, said.
Frost claimed that the UK's main concern is that the implementation of the Northern Protocol does not undermine the peace agreement, so future bilateral discussions will focus on trying to fix those sorts of difficulties.