Latest UK Brexit demands “very difficult to accept” – Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the UK government’s latest Brexit demands were “very difficult to accept” and insisted that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) must be the body that interprets EU law and oversees the single market.

UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost delivered a speech in Lisbon on Tuesday saying the UK government is proposing new legal text to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he described as “a best way forward “.

Mr Frost said the protocol “must change”. He also warned that the UK could still trigger Article 16, a mechanism that can be used to suspend aspects of the Northern Ireland protocol.

The UK government has challenged the role of the ECJ in upholding the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Frost said he still sees room for negotiation with the EU on how to address London’s concerns without triggering a bigger trade war.

“There are several stages in this process where anyone can take a close look at it and decide to step back from the brink,” he said.

The UK signed the protocol in good faith and hoped the protocol would work effectively, Mr Frost said, adding that it had become clear that it was not working as intended.

Mr Frost said he shared a new “forward-looking” protocol on Northern Ireland with the EU, aimed at replacing the existing version – an agreement reached when the UK was unsure whether it would sign a trade agreement with the bloc.

The original protocol defaulted to “undue rigidity,” said Frost, which “unnecessarily harmed” Northern Ireland. The protocol must now be aligned with the comprehensive trade agreement. He criticized the system of governance, with the ECJ at its peak.

“Our proposal is more like a normal treaty in the way it is governed,” Mr. Frost said.

“This can include the use of Article 16 if necessary,” said Frost, referring to the mechanism that would suspend parts of the protocol. “We wouldn’t go down this route for free or with special pleasure.”

The protocol is “the biggest source of mistrust between us,” Mr Frost said, saying he had lost his consent in part of Northern Ireland. “The protocol is not working.

Mr Frost said the UK would never adopt the same level of border controls as the EU because the government doesn’t think the risks demand it.

Mr Frost said fixing the protocol is a “prerequisite” for securing a better place in a relationship with the EU. And he said Brexit changed the UK’s international interests with Europe and beyond.

Irish response

Mr Varadkar was asked to respond to Mr Frost’s speech at a post-budget press conference and whether it was a red line not to remove the role of the ECJ.

He said he had not seen the speech and could not speak for the European Union.

But he added: “What I can say is that our consistent position as the European Union and as the Irish government is that the CJEC must be the body which interprets European law and European standards.

“I don’t understand how a UK court or any other court could do this.”

Earlier, he said the protocol was designed to do three things – avoid a hard border in Ireland, protect the integrity of the EU’s single market and allow Northern Ireland to trade freely with Britain. and the EU.

He said there have been some issues with the flow of goods to Northern Ireland from Great Britain and “we want to resolve this issue as best we can”.

But he added: “Ultimately, the role of the European Court of Justice is to rule on the rules of the single market.

“And I don’t think we can ever find ourselves in a situation where another court decides the rules of the European single market.

“I think that is why this makes the most recent demands of the British government very difficult to accept.”

He also highlighted: “the problems Britain had in getting goods into Britain, real shortages in England and now in Scotland and Wales, ranging from closed gas stations to shelves without goods. because of Brexit.

“In fact, the protocol protected Northern Ireland from this. It has fewer supply problems than the rest of the UK.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern called the UK Brexit negotiating team’s tactics “deplorable”.

The EU was trying to find solutions to the situation as it seemed that “the representative of the United Kingdom was ready to do anything to make life almost impossible,” Mr Ahern told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show .

“He might think it’s a very smart negotiation, but I think it’s deplorable. In normal business, business people just don’t do things like that, ”Ahern said.

EU chief Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic will present his own proposal for adjustments to the Northern Ireland deal – a binding international treaty on Wednesday. – Additional reports by Bloomberg

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