After adopting the Protocol as part of its drawn-out divorce from the EU, Britain now says the agreement is no longer working in Northern Ireland’s interests…reports Asian Lite News.
Britain on Monday shot down reports that it might compromise on a future role for the EU’s top court in policing a contentious trade pact for Northern Ireland.
Ahead of a new round of talks on the vexed Northern Ireland Protocol starting Tuesday, Brexit minister David Frost said the UK was adamant in wanting to end the oversight role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
“We have to put in place arbitration arrangements that are balanced. We can’t have the courts of one of the parties settling disputes between us,” he told a committee of MPs.
“We’re not interested in arrangements which keep the court in by some other name, at one remove or in some other way,” Frost added.
“The most important principle is one of equality.”
After adopting the Protocol as part of its drawn-out divorce from the EU, Britain now says the agreement is no longer working in Northern Ireland’s interests.
It has taken particular issue with provisions allowing the ECJ the ultimate say in whether it is abiding with the terms, which are designed to prevent UK goods entering the EU single market via Ireland.
In the buildup to the latest talks in London, The Times and Financial Times newspapers have reported that Britain could settle for a Swiss-style arbitration panel with the EU that retains some ECJ involvement.
The EU says the ECJ must remain the final arbiter of its single market, but has offered compromise proposals as London threatens to abandon the Protocol altogether.
The proposals include reduced customs checks and paperwork on British products intended for Northern Ireland, which pro-UK loyalists complain are driving a wedge between Belfast and London and building momentum for the republican push for a united Ireland.
Frost reiterated that a new agreement was needed in the coming weeks to avert UK threats of invoking Article 16 of the Protocol, which allows either side to suspend its application.
“Obviously if we conclude that it can’t be bridged in the real world, then we’re in a different situation,” he said, while stressing “we are trying everything, and exploring every avenue”.
ALSO READ-Brexit talks reaching climax
READ MORE-Brexit Talks To Go Down To The Wire