Brexit: Lia Nici slams EU export process at borders
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UK and EU negotiators will kick-start a fresh round of negotiations on Monday to find a resolution to the ongoing situation in Northern Ireland. The implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol has thrown up huge difficulties for both sides since the UK formally left the bloc in January.
The mechanism tied Northern Ireland to the EU single market and customs union in order to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland – but has resulted in trade being disrupted and additional checks on goods moving across Great Britain.
Lord Frost, who led Brexit negotiations, has been appointed as a full member of the Boris Johnson Cabinet and will take control of talks.
Lord Frost took a tough stance against the bloc throughout the Brexit trade talks and refused to cave in on the UK’s demands to take back control of its money, laws and borders.
Ahead of the talks, one EU diplomat accused Lord Frost of being confrontational – a claim dismissed by the UK Government.
An EU diplomat told The Daily Telegraph: “The EU and UK relationship is in dire need of more consensus. Unfortunately, Lord Frost is, so far, better known for confrontation.
“Putting the relationship on ice is not an option. Britain and the continent are too close, too interlinked and there’s too much going on affecting both sides of the English Channel.”
Britain then hit back and called out the EU over its record since the UK left the bloc.
A UK Government source said: “Based on evidence so far this year, the EU’s efforts can hardly be described as having promoted harmony.”
Relations between the UK and EU hit a new low last month after the European Commission briefly triggered emergency legislation in the Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent exports of coronavirus vaccine to the UK.
Officials in Brussels had hoped to put the past behind and “reset” the relationship ahead of the latest round of discussions.
An EU official said: “This would be a nice thing to happen but we are not holding our breath. The timeline sounds about right. I’m not so sure if a ‘reset’ is possible, but I think it’s admirable that we’re at least trying.”
Britain is seeking a two-year extension to the existing grace periods on checks on goods in order to give firms more time to adjust, but the bloc wants the Northern Ireland Protocol fully implemented beforehand.
A UK Government spokeswoman said the EU trade deal “will build on our shared history of friendship and cooperation, but as sovereign equals, with greater democratic autonomy and a clear, independent voice to speak and act on our priorities”.
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8.15am update: DUP minister stops construction of post-Brexit checkpoint facilities in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister has halted construction of permanent inspection facilities for post-Brexit checks on agri-food goods arriving from Great Britain.
DUP minister Gordon Lyons has also stopped further recruitment of inspection staff for the port facilities and said charges would not be levied at the ports on traders bringing goods from GB into Northern Ireland.
Mr Lyons’s decision relates to ongoing work on new purpose-built inspection facilities at ports like Belfast and Larne.
He said: “I’ve just let executive colleagues know that today I instructed my department to halt work on a range of issues relating to work at the ports.
“This is in and around a number of areas, first of all further infrastructure, any further infrastructure builds; the additional recruitment of staff; and also the charging at the ports.”
The decisions come amid the ongoing controversy over disruption caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs Irish Sea trade post-Brexit.
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