The European Commission has announced new legal action against the UK Government as politicians have outlined a plan to scrap parts of the Brexit deal to ease trade tensions in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Protocol, a border arrangement within the wider terms of the Brexit agreement has flared political tempers as Unionists have claimed the trade controls violate Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom. As the Government has battled to negotiate a resolution to the Protocol, the EU has claimed plans to override aspects of the 2019 Brexit deal would amount to a violation of international law. Vice President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic warned the UK to “be prepared for the worst” as the EU moves to block adjustments to the border plans outlined in the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Sky News journalist Beth Rigby asked: “Do you think we can resolve this and that the European Union and the UK can properly move on and put Brexit to bed?”
Mr Sefcovic replied: “I think here we have to follow the very common rule of hope for the best, be prepared for the worst.
“This is what we will be doing here.
“We will be permanently pointing towards the huge advantages of our approach over unilateral proposals that came from the UK.”
Mr Sefcovic was adamant the approach taken by the EU in regards to post-Brexit borders was absolutely the correct decision.
He suggested the trade checks now enforced between Northern Ireland and other areas of the UK held “huge advantages” as the Protocol enforces a border within the Irish Sea.
The Vice President continued: “We really have the interests of the people in Northern Ireland in our heart.
“We absolutely want to make sure that they would benefit from the access to the single market, from having the possibility to export to 500 million people.”
He added: “We want to provide them with legal certainty, with clarity, with stability.
“With these goals, we are ready to work with the UK Government and with all political leaders in Northern Ireland.”
Mr Sefcovic claimed the European Union was still open to discussion on the matter despite repeatedly opposing the Government’s proposals to adjust the terms of the Brexit agreement.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has proposed the alterations to the Brexit terms in the newly published Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
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Ms Truss has shamed the efforts of the EU in reaching a solution to the trade frustrations in Northern Ireland.
The Foreign Secretary said the Government’s preference had been for a “negotiated law” with the EU, but repeated discussions had failed to deliver a realistic solution to the issues of the Protocol.
The Government has argued that changes to the Protocol would be legal as the adjustments are needed to “safeguard an essential interest.”
However, the EU has described the UK’s plans as “illegal” and Mr Sefcovic has said the European Commission has been left with “no choice” but to trigger legal contests.