Tag Archives: NIRELAND

EU Sefcovic briefs US lawmakers on the riddle of Northern Ireland’s Brexit | Instant News

DUBLIN (Reuters) – European Union Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney briefed the influential Irish-American caucus at the US Congress on Wednesday on Britain’s unilateral shift to Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangements.

The fate of Northern Ireland, which is closely watched by US President Joe Biden, has become the most hotly contested Brexit issue.

While campaigning in last year’s presidential election, Biden bluntly warned Britain that it must respect Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace agreement because it withdraws from the EU or there won’t be a separate US trade deal.

London finally agreed to a protocol that aligns the UK-administered territory with the single EU market for goods when it exits the bloc’s orbit. This requires an inspection of some items arriving there from elsewhere in Great Britain.

The extension of Britain’s unilateral grace period at last week’s hearings has resulted in pledges of legal action from the EU and accusations from Ireland that its neighbor is not acting like a “respectable nation”.

The caucus meeting considered “Britain’s unilateral steps in implementing the Protocol” and discussed Northern Ireland’s “unique opportunities” due to its full access to EU and UK markets, Coveney said in a statement.

“The EU and the US have been firm partners in the peace process,” said Coveney. “I want to thank the members of the Caucus for their engagement today and their continued support for the Good Friday Agreement.”

The agreement largely ended three decades of violence between mostly Catholic nationalists fighting for a united Ireland and mostly Protestant union members, or loyalists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of Britain.

Coveney has sought support from US lawmakers during the Brexit process and Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin will speak with President Biden next week in lieu of the St Patrick’s Day bilateral meeting at the White House.

The Friends of Ireland caucus, a bipartisan group on Capitol Hill that is considering a Brexit debate on Ireland’s behalf before Northern Ireland’s protocol is agreed in 2019, is seeking direction from Sefcovic and Coveney, the European Commission said.

The group is chaired by Democrat Richard Neal, who is also chair of the Congressional committee overseeing trade.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries in Dublin and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Edited by Nick Macfie and Toby Chopra


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Ireland says Britain doesn’t behave like a ‘respectable country’ | Instant News

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Britain’s decision to make unilateral changes to Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangement is “not the proper behavior of a respectable country” and will erode confidence with the European Union, the senior Irish minister said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, 11 December 2020. REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch / Pool / File Photo

The European Union pledged legal action on Wednesday after the British government unilaterally extended a grace period for inspecting food imports to Northern Ireland, a move Brussels said violated the terms of the UK divorce deal.

“For the second time in months, the British government is threatening to violate international law,” Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told Virgin Media television, referring to a similar one-sided move last year that London ultimately canceled.

To be honest, this was not the proper behavior of a respectable country.

The fate of Northern Ireland was the most hotly contested issue during Britain’s Brexit negotiations, with London ultimately agreeing to leave UK-ruled territory aligned with the EU’s single market for goods, requiring checks on some of the goods arriving there from elsewhere in Great Britain.

That has created difficulties for businesses that say they are having trouble bringing in supplies, and more checks will be put in place when the grace period ends on March 31. Many business groups welcomed the move on Wednesday.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned that it was not the first time that the EU had seen Britain as an “untrustworthy” negotiating partner.

He said it also undermined Ireland’s efforts to convince Brussels of the need to make some changes to Northern Ireland protocol and targeted the new British minister overseeing EU relations, David Frost.

“Before Lord Frost spoke in detail with (EU Commission Vice President) Maros Sefcovic in his new role, this was announced. To say it is rude, would be an understatement, “Coveney told national broadcaster RTE.

“Vice President Sefcovic has shown a real willingness to try to resolve the issue of protocol and to make cases in the European Commission, Parliament and Council of Europe and make progress on that. To him being tampered with in this way by the British government was very unhelpful. “

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Edited by Alex Richardson and Giles Elgood


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The Northern Irish side is taking legal action against the Brexit deal | Instant News

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Members of Northern Ireland’s two largest pro-British parties will take part in legal action challenging parts of Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union, parties said on Sunday.

The United Democratic Party (DUP) and the United Ulster Party (UUP) will join forces with other pro-British figures to challenge the Northern Irish Protocol, which has created trade barriers between the UK and the rest of Great Britain.

The protocol, designed to protect the European Union’s single market without creating a land border on the island of Ireland, has caused significant trade disruptions since it came into force at the start of the year.

Several British companies have stopped shipments to Northern Ireland and several supermarkets have been left empty.

The DUP said several senior members would join “other like-minded union members” as named in the judicial review process challenging the compatibility of the Northern Ireland Protocol with the Union Act 1800, the 1998 Northern Ireland Act and the Belfast Treaty, he said in a statement.

“Neither the Northern Irish Assembly, the Northern Irish Executive nor the Northern Irish people approved the Protocol was enforced or the flow of goods from GB to NI was hindered by the inspection,” said DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster.

The protocol is part of an international agreement signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year.

The region’s second largest pro-British party, the Ulster Unity Party, said in a statement it would “seek to explore every political and legal avenue to overturn the NI protocol.”

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Edited by Bernadette Baum


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The EU rejects most of Britain’s requests for Northern Irish trade, recognizing steel | Instant News

FILE PHOTOS: European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic holds a joint press conference with the Secretary for European Affairs of Portugal Ana Paula Zacarias in Brussels, Belgium, 18 January 2021. REUTERS / Johanna Geron / Pool

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union on Wednesday rejected most UK requests for easier trade with Northern Ireland but said it was examining more flexibility in steel.

In a letter to British Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said the EU’s executive body was “examining possible amendments” to have steel imports to Northern Ireland from Britain counted against the tariff quotas given by the EU to Britain.

But the EU has rejected calls for more time, until January 1, 2023, for British supermarkets and their suppliers to adjust to new customs borders in the Irish Sea for goods shipped to the province, including cold meat, parcels and medicine.

The customs border between Britain and Northern Ireland was created as part of a UK exit agreement from the European Union to prevent the creation of a tough border between the province and the rest of the island of Ireland.

“With regard to the added flexibility regarding the application of Union laws as they apply in Northern Ireland with regard to meat products, export health certificates and packages and express services, I would like to remind you that comprehensive reductions … cannot be agreed upon beyond what the Protocol has predicted, wrote Sefcovic. .

Sefcovic will meet Gove on Thursday in London for further talks.

Gove also called on February 3 to remove barriers to pet travel between Britain and Northern Ireland and the movement of seed potatoes and other crops and plant products, but the EU appears to have rejected this as well.

“With regard to the issue of pet travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the movement of seed potatoes and other crops and plant products, any flexibility will require a UK commitment to align with relevant EU rules,” said Sefcovic.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Grant McCool


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Britain reopened the Brexit gap with a request for a longer grace period for Ireland | Instant News

DUBLIN / LONDON (Reuters) – Britain demanded a two-year extension on Wednesday for a grace period for inspections of goods shipped between Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK, a row that threatens to reopen a rift that has baffled years of Brexit. talks.

FILE PHOTO: Container ship anchored at Belfast Harbor, Northern Ireland January 2, 2021. REUTERS / Phil Noble / File Photo

British and EU officials are expected on Wednesday evening to discuss how to ease the passage of goods across the customs border between Britain and Northern Ireland, after shortages and shipping disruptions sparked outrage in British-ruled territory.

A month after exiting EU orbit, Britain already wants a change to agreed upon rules for Northern Ireland, which it leaves on the EU’s single market and customs union. The rules ensure no checks of goods crossing the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, but meaningful checks are now required for goods arriving from other parts of Great Britain.

London feels it is on stronger footing to press charges after the European Commission briefly threatened last week to impose emergency controls on vaccines that cross its land border. The European Union swiftly changed course after protests from London, Belfast and Dublin, but that mistake strengthened Britain’s case that the agreement needed to be renewed.

Authorities in Northern Ireland have complained that the new rules have resulted in difficulty transporting goods from other parts of the UK and a shortage of supermarkets. The rules will get stricter when the grace period of three months for some items expires.

The grace period “must be extended to at least January 1, 2023,” said British Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who is tasked with negotiating the matter, in a letter to his European Union counterpart, Maros Sefcovic.

“If it is not possible to agree on a path forward as we have proposed, then Britain will consider using all available instruments,” he added, saying that what is needed is a “political, not technical solution”.

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Gove and Sefcovic will hold talks on the issue together with leaders of Northern Ireland’s two main political parties, first minister Arlene Foster of the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party, and first deputy minister Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Fein, who supported unification with Ireland.

Ireland has signaled it is willing to support a longer grace period.

“From an Irish perspective we would like there to be some flexibility here if it is possible to do that,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told RTE radio.

Trade across Ireland’s land border is the most contentious issue of Britain’s five-year Brexit negotiations, and the search for arrangements to keep borders open led to the downfall of Prime Minister Boris Johnson Theresa May’s predecessor.

UK supermarkets have until the end of March to adjust their systems for customs checks. But some Northern Irish outlets are already short of fresh goods typically imported from Britain, and fear the situation could worsen.

The government delegated in Northern Ireland, where members of the pro-British union have fiercely opposed new trade barriers, on Monday temporarily suspended some inspections at the ports of Larne and Belfast due to security concerns.

The European Union also told its officials there not to come to work because of serious concerns about their safety, caused by increased “malicious and threatening behavior” in recent weeks, including the appearance of graffiti describing port staff as “targets”.

Reporting by Graham Fahy and Conor Humphries in Dublin; Kate Holton, Elizabeth Piper, Estelle Shirbon and Sarah Young in London and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; Edited by Angus MacSwan


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