The EU has not done enough to come up with solutions to the problems surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol and must instead show “more ambition”, said Lord David Frost.
Britain’s de facto Brexit minister blamed Brussels negotiators for not pushing the talks fast enough, stressing that “we need more urgency if we are to maintain the peace process and protect the Belfast or the Good Friday”.
This comes after the tone of negotiations has lowered in recent weeks, with both sides indicating that talks on implementing the protocol have become more productive.
European Commission Vice-President and Chief Brexit Negotiator Maros Sefcovic hit back at Frost this morning and said: ‘I have a feeling in our meetings that I am the only one pushing for urgent proposals “.
The UK and the EU both recognize that implementation of the protocol is causing economic and political problems in Northern Ireland, with both sides putting forward proposals to reduce checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea.
Northern Ireland still follows the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market rules, unlike the rest of the UK, to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
Onerous checks on goods from Britain to Northern Ireland resulted in shortages in supermarkets and sparked violence from parts of the Unionist community.
Frost calls for an honesty box approach, where there is no control over the goods if the exporter declares that they are only intended for use in Northern Ireland.
“Until there [the EUâs] the solutions do not address the problems. We need more ambition and more urgency if we are to support the peace process and protect the Belfast or Good Friday agreement, âFrost wrote in the Mail on Sunday.
âGoods that we and the EU agree will not leave Northern Ireland should not be treated as if moving from one country to another – because it does not.
âGoods going to Ireland should be screened in the Irish Sea to protect the EU’s single market and avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. This is what we have proposed. But for now, the EU says it’s impossible. I urge them to think again.
The EU has presented proposals to halve controls on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland.
This includes the 80% reduction in controls on agricultural products and concessions to ensure the free flow of medicines across the Irish Sea.
However, Brussels maintains that controls are still needed to ensure that unauthorized goods do not enter the EU’s single market through the backdoor.
Sefcovic today accused Frost of “political stance” after his comments in the Mail.
“Sometimes I feel like in our meetings I’m the only one pushing for urgent solutions,” Sefcovic told the BBC.
âWe have put proposals on the table to resolve the uninterrupted supply of drugs at NI since June and I remember Lord Frost telling me that what is important to him is not only the content but also the process. . I was waiting to see if he could provide this solution jointly and I must say that until today, this has not been the case.
âIf we were still in the political attitude mode and brought new issues to the table, I don’t think we will solve the most pressing issues for Northern Ireland and therefore we could act alone to ensure that the Northern Irish people have the medicine they need.