LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is demanding the European Union agree to rework the post-Brexit rules governing trade with Northern Ireland, warning it had considered taking unilateral action but would try once again to find a new relationship.
To avoid creating a hard border on the island of Ireland, Britain agreed to a deal in which Northern Ireland remained aligned with the EU’s single market.
This has instead created a regulatory border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, causing serious trade friction for goods and raising fears about the delicate peace in Northern Ireland.
Below are the details as set out by David Frost, the British minister who leads Brexit negotiations.
– Frost told the upper house of parliament that the government was looking to urgently open discussions to secure “significant change” to the protocol.
– He said the government had considered using Article 16, which enables either party to take unilateral action if the protocol leads to serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties, but that now was not the right time.
– He said he would set out the vision for a new partnership that would not be policed by EU institutions and the Court of Justice.
Frost told the House of Lords:
“We have looked carefully at the safeguards provided by Article 16 of the protocol, these exist to deal with significant societal and economic difficulties, as well as with trade diversion.
“It is clear that the circumstances exist to justify the use of Article 16, nevertheless, my Lords, we have concluded that it is not the right moment to do so.
“We see an opportunity to proceed differently, to find a new path, to seek to agree with EU through negotiations, a new balance in our arrangements covering Northern Ireland, to the benefit of all.
(Reporting by Kate Holton and William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)