Post-Brexit tensions between the two sides are boiling over yet again, with senior Brussels diplomats claiming Lord Frost had “completely failed to engage” with the European Commission on implementing the agreement that was agreed at the end of last year. There is a crunch meeting of the UK/EU partnership taking place next week that will revolve around issues on the controversial Protocol. One EU diplomatic source told The Times: “You are starting to hear member states say that the time has come to show Britain that we’re serious.
“Johnson signed the protocol and he needs to implement it.
“If we don’t get that clear indication in the coming weeks then we’re looking at imposing retaliatory trade tariffs.
“The feeling is at the moment that Johnson is taking us for fools.”
The trade deal agreed signed between the UK and EU on December 31 states either side can impose retaliatory tariffs on the other’s exports for breaching the agreement, pending independent arbitration, which also covers the Protocol.
EU insiders claim the European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic has felt betrayed that the UK had not yet started building infrastructure for physical checks on goods entering Northern Ireland, despite promises from opposite number and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
The source said: “These are all things in the agreement that Gove pledged the government was working on, but we see no evidence that Frost is following through on them.
“We are reaching the end of the road.”
During next week’s crucial meeting, the EU is reportedly prepared to table “flexible” solutions to some of the problems surrounding the Protocol, including a “trusted trader scheme” aimed at cutting physical checks at the border.
But another EU source told the newspaper they are yet to see evidence of the UK willing to compromise, adding: “If Frost does not reciprocate there will be trouble. Our flexibility needs to be reciprocated. People are angry.”
However, a senior Number 10 source hit back and said Lord Frost had in fact put forward more than a dozen papers with solutions to the problems but had received no written response from the EU.
They said: “Throughout these talks the EU has prioritised the protection of the single market above all else, even though there is very little risk to it.
“The EU has a responsibility to work with us to find solutions to address the issues we are facing and ensure the protocol can operate in a pragmatic and proportionate way.”
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