According to sources around the British negotiators, the talks in Brussels this week were constructive and there was convergence on some points. “But the truth is, there are still big differences on the important points.”
As part of the Brexit deal, concluded last December, it was agreed that goods transported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland must meet European requirements, and therefore also be screened. In this way it was possible to avoid the difficult border between the European Union country and Northern Ireland. Such a hard border could jeopardize the hard-won peace between pro-British Protestants and pro-Ireland Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Britain said a team from the European Commission would travel to London on Tuesday for intensive negotiations. By the end of the week, European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic and Britain’s Brexit Secretary David Frost are set to meet to discuss progress.
The British described the Northern Ireland Protocol as impractical for some time and publicly threatened to cancel it unilaterally. Brussels recently proposed a number of concessions to facilitate trade in food and medicine and reduce paperwork, but this is not enough for the British. They also find the fact that the European Court of Justice is the arbiter of disputes unpalatable.
It seems so unlikely that the abolition of this role will be negotiable by the EU, as withdrawal from the treaty appears to be the only possible move for the UK. According to sources in Brussels, the European Commission would like to respond forcefully if the British do so.
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