Brexit Minister Lord Frost has accused the European Union of a “historic error in judgment” over the level of concessions to the Northern Ireland Protocol it is expected to announce on Wednesday.
Speaking to diplomats on Tuesday afternoon, Lord Frost lambasted the Protocol’s effect on the Good Friday Agreement.
He asserted in his speech in Lisbon, ahead of intensive talks later this month, that the “balance” created by the Good Friday Agreement “is being shredded by the way this protocol works” .
“The Northern Ireland Protocol is the biggest source of mistrust between us and for all kinds of reasons we need to resolve this issue,” he added.
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The protocol was implemented to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland following Brexit, and keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single goods market.
“The protocol is not working, it has completely lost consent in a community in Northern Ireland… it does the opposite of what it was set up for, to protect the Belfast Good Friday deal.”
Lord Frost also accused the EU of using Northern Ireland as a means to overturn the referendum result.
The Brexit Minister said: “There is a widespread feeling in the UK that the EU has tried to use Northern Ireland to encourage British political forces to reverse the referendum result, or at least us keep closely aligned with the EU. ”
He stressed that the stalemate between the UK and the EU on the deal must be resolved so that Western countries can cooperate against threats from China and Russia.
The UK and the EU “would have a chance to move forward towards a new and better balance,” he said, if the bloc agreed to the European Court of Justice being removed from its oversight role.
He said Brexit was a ‘democratic project’ and argued that this meant the UK had no interest in forming a coalition across the EU to reform its rules, despite strong interest in prosperity of EU Member States.
He claimed that leaving the EU offered “real competition”, which he described as the historic precondition for innovation.
He also reaffirmed his comments made in the House of Lords in September, in which he said it would be a “significant mistake” to assume that the UK would not trigger Article 16 – Ireland’s part of the Protocol. of the North which authorizes elements of the agreement. being suspended temporarily if it is proven that they cause “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties likely to persist, or of trade diversion”.
Last week it was reported that the European Commission would offer an exception to the protocol that would allow ‘national identity products’ such as sausages to enter the region, despite general EU rules restricting chilled meats. from non-EU countries.
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic is expected to present the bloc’s proposals tomorrow.