According to Lord Frost, trigger Article 16 is the only option if negotiations between the UK UK and EU are unsuccessful in resolving Northern Ireland Protocol issues.
After nearly four weeks of intense talks, the UK’s Brexit minister provided an update.
However, he stated that the UK “is not giving up” and he wanted to keep his optimism.
The EU promised to provide a clear response if Article 16 is invoked by the UK, which was deemed an “unjustified” move.
This protocol, a post-Brexit trade arrangement that is specific to Northern Ireland. However, the UK would like to see changes made to the agreement it reached with the EU in 2019.
Although the deal was made two years ago to prevent a hard border between Ireland and the UK, critics claim it disrupts trade and undermines Northern Ireland’s standing within the UK.
Article 16 of The Northern Ireland Protocol provides a safety measure that allows the UK and the EU to unilaterally take action when they feel the arrangement causes serious problems.
- Article 16: Why is it important?
- EU warns UK about the consequences of violating Article 16
Although the UK is adamant that Article 16 has already been activated, it still seeks to avoid this outcome in further talks.
There are growing rumors that the move may be within weeks.
Maros Sefcovic is the Vice President European Commission. He has now briefed EU Ambassadors regarding the negotiation.
The meeting was a private one. It is believed that although he failed to bring “good news”, there were still hopes for the continuation of “productive” negotiations.
Katya Abdler, BBC correspondent, was told by a diplomat that the EU was “preparing for Article 16 to be activated”
They stated that there was consensus among EU members states that the UK’s arbitrary and unjustified actions would be met by a strong European response.
A diplomat from Britain suggested that Britain’s requirements on the protocol were unrealistic.
“The UK wants checks to be eliminated and a system that only allows goods to pass through Ireland for inspection, but the UK doesn’t know how.
Lord Frost spoke in the House of Lords Wednesday. He stated: “If talks fail in the end, we will ofcourse publish in full the EU proposals assessment and explain why they are not a sustainable settlement. But we won’t do that until we exhaust all negotiating options.”
Even though the EU disagrees, the minister claimed that Article 16 activation would be in “wholly compatible” with UK legal obligations.
Maros Sezovic, vice-president of European Commission warned that the UK could trigger Article 16 last week.
Lord Frost warned the EU, however to keep calm and refrain from any confrontations over the protocol.
If the UK invokes Article 16, he said that the EU threatened “massive, disproportionate retaliation”.
According to him, no other country has a greater interest than the UK in Northern Ireland’s stability and security. He stated that it was unlikely that the UK would proceed with any actions that could put all of that at risk.
“If they were to decide to react in an disproportionate fashion and to aggrave the Northern Ireland problems rather than decrease them, that would be a matter for them,” said he.
“But then we’d be able to make our own judgment about the value that we can attach to their support for the peace process, the people of Northern Ireland and their protection of their interests.”
On Friday, Lord Frost will be meeting his EU counterpart Maros Sezefcovic for a fourth round discussion.
As Mr Sefcovic informed EU Ambassadors in Brussels about the state of the negotiations, he made his statement.
In a separate development, the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister has given his staff responsibility for preparing for Article 16’s activation.
Edwin Poots from the Democratic Unionist Party, DUP said that Article 16 will likely be activated soon.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP stated that it was unlikely that the UK or EU would come to an agreement on Tuesday and that Article 16 could trigger in as little as a week.
This protocol maintains Northern Ireland’s membership in the EU single market for goods, and permits free trade between the EU and the country.
However, it creates an international trade barrier between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain.
Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Mícheál Martin said he did not think there was a need to trigger Article 16.
“Accessing the single market is vital for businesses in Northern Ireland, and it’s having positive effects,” he stated.
Article 16 triggers could, in the short term, jeopardize that access.”
A joint statement was published by several members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the USA, criticizing the UK’s stand on the Protocol Standoff.
According to the statement, “The Good Friday Agreement” and the broader peace process required patience and time. Good faith contributions were made by communities from Northern Ireland, America, Ireland, and other countries.
“By threatening Article 16 under the Northern Ireland Protocol, Britain threatens not only to destabilize trade relations but also to endanger the long-awaited peace. We ask the UK to stop this dangerous trend and commit to fully implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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