Visiting European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said Brussels’ patience with London was “running out” due to its inability to enforce controls on goods destined for the province from Britain continental.

The European Union on Wednesday threatened the UK with retaliatory measures if it refuses to implement post-Brexit trade deals in Northern Ireland, after the no-deal breakup of talks to resolve the simmering conflict.

Visiting European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said Brussels’ patience with London was “running out” due to its inability to enforce controls on goods destined for the province from Britain continental.

“Today I can say that we are at a crossroads in our relations with the UK. Trust, which should be at the heart of all relationships, must be restored, ”he said at a press conference in London.

There were “many fundamental flaws” in Britain’s compliance with the deal, he added.

“If the UK were to take further unilateral steps in the coming weeks, we will not hesitate to respond quickly, firmly and decisively. “

Asked what form this might take, he replied that it could include legal action, arbitration or other retaliatory measures, including targeted tariffs.

This has sparked discussions of a potential ‘sausage war’ on the UK side of the Channel, with a grace period for shipping chilled meat products to Northern Ireland due to end this month – and the UK. Uni threatens to extend it.

But Sefcovic insisted, “We don’t want that to happen… It’s not too late. Let’s correct the path.

A senior UK official close to the talks also stressed that “no one wants to get into a trade war or anything close”, and denied that the UK had violated the deal, saying it had been ” designed to give margins wide enough to respond to events ”. – ‘Straightforward and honest’ –

London and Brussels signed a last-minute trade deal in December, nearly four years after the historic Brexit referendum and just weeks before Britain left the European single market and customs union.

The two sides negotiated a separate deal for Northern Ireland, which has the UK’s only land border with the EU, to prevent the entry of unchecked goods into the single market.

But port checks on deliveries to Northern Ireland from mainland Britain – England, Scotland and Wales – have caused consternation among trade unionists in Northern Ireland, who say it changes their place in the UK.

Controls had to be suspended earlier this year due to threats against port staff, and the protocol has been blamed for the worst violence in years in the British-ruled province.

An increase in red tape for goods traveling from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland has resulted in delays and, in some cases, shortages in stores.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament it is about protecting the country’s territorial and economic integrity.

“What we do is prioritize the right and ability of the people of Northern Ireland to have, as they deserved, free and uninterrupted access to goods and services throughout the Kingdom. -Uni “, he added.

UK Brexit Minister David Frost called the three and a half hours of talks “frank and honest”, saying the dialogue had not broken off and more meetings were scheduled.

But he called on the EU to be more flexible in approaching the problem in Northern Ireland pragmatically, given the fragile peace in the province.

“Prioritize stability”

Northern Ireland is still deeply divided between predominantly Protestant pro-British trade unionists and predominantly Catholic pro-Irish nationalists, despite a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence against British rule.

“What we really need to do now is urgently find solutions that support the Belfast Good Friday deal, support the Northern Ireland peace process and get things back to normal,” he said. Frost told reporters.

The EU has already launched legal action against the UK after delaying customs checks on some goods arriving in Northern Ireland from mainland Britain, and has said it has US backing if she chose to act again.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States will encourage both sides “to prioritize economic and political stability in Northern Ireland and to negotiate under existing mechanisms when these differences will arise “.

Discontent with the protocol has already played a role in the resignation of Northern Ireland’s Prime Minister Arlene Foster and promises of a tougher approach from her more uncompromising successor.


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