The tone has changed, Brussels acknowledges. For the first time, the meeting this Friday between the British negotiator, David Frost, and the European Commission, Maros Serfcovic, has not occurred under the British threat of activating article 16 that would mean the suspension of the Northern Ireland protocol , one that guarantees that there is no border between the two Irish in exchange for customs controls in Northern Ireland on products arriving from Great Britain. While Northern Ireland therefore remains in the single European market, what arrives from England must be subjected to controls, something that represents a kind of border between the two islands and that comes to split the United Kingdom in two by the customs route.
“We need reciprocity from the United Kingdom with the ambitious move made by the European Union with the proposal to lower customs controls by up to 80%. The EU is committed to seeking solutions,” said Sefcovic this Friday at the end of the meeting with Frost: “We must give stability and predictability to Northern Ireland.”
Sefcovic acknowledges: “The tone of the Frost discussion has changed, and I hope it will lead to tangible solutions for people. That is why we need great progress in the coming days, in the field of medicines, for example, where we have it within reach. hand in hand. We need to find a quick solution. We will intensify negotiations next week. ”
And he has sentenced: “I hope that practical solutions are imposed on political calculations.”
Frost, for his part, has distributed a statement in which the possibility of activating Article 16 is not spared, and in which he continues to ask for “significant” advances in matters in which there are “great distances”, that is, the governance of the Northern Ireland protocol.
In other words, the United Kingdom insists that the role of the Court of Justice of the EU be withdrawn, which is included in the Irish protocol because, as Sefcovic recalled this Friday, “if Northern Ireland is in the European single market, it will which is an extraordinary opportunity, because it is also in the UK, the rules of the single market are under the governance of the CJEU. There can be no changes about that. ”
“It is very important to underline is that the Court of Justice of the European Union is the guardian of the rules of the single market”, said Sefcovic: “The rules of the single market in the EU and, of course, the rules of the single market in Northern Ireland. The European Union needs to protect the integrity of the single market. This is a huge opportunity for the Northern Ireland economy and we would not like to put it at risk, because without the jurisdiction of the EU Court of Justice there is no market access We should focus on the practical issues: medicines, customs-related procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary controls and also how the different actors in Northern Ireland could be more involved. And for all that we proposed very concrete solutions in our documents , and we are ready to work closely with our UK partners to develop them into legal solutions. ”