Brexit: Barnier warns of ‘feelings of not being protected’
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The Brussels diplomat told member state ambassadors they must crack down on Britain to ensure other countries do not follow it out of the exit door. The Frenchman was attending his final meeting of the bloc’s “Coreper” meeting of EU27 envoys before he steps down as head of the European Commission’s UK task force. Mr Barnier urged them to be “vigilant” that Britain fully respects both the Brexit divorce and trade deals, especially the Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid a hard border.
He said the Commission should be vocal in setting out the rules of engagement between the bloc and Britain.
But in his starkest warning, the departing EU haggler urged the bloc to learn lessons from the Brexit process to prevent another shock member state departure.
He said they should understand why 52 percent of Britons voted to quit the Brussels project in June 2016.
Mr Barnier said eurocrats should be less “Brussels”, suggesting citizens are concerned the EU is seeking to end the concept of nation state while taking away their lifestyles and traditions.
He warned “we need nations to fight nationalism,” according to the Politico website.
Mr Barnier will step down as the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator at the end of the month after more than four years wrangling with Britain.
While the Frenchman has declared a return to domestic politics, he has agreed to remain as a special adviser to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on EU-UK relations.
He will tell her to “avoid errors” in the future in acknowledgement of the top eurocrat’s mistake to trigger Article 16 of the Brexit deal to essentially impose a hard border on Ireland to prevent vaccines leaking into Britain via the backdoor.
Mr Barnier told diplomats errors “have been made but fortunately corrected” – a reference to the screeching U-turn performed by the Commission on its Irish border debacle.
Meanwhile, the UK-EU Brexit Joint Committee failed to reach an agreement last night to ease the tensions in Northern Ireland.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic held showdown talks over video link.
They didn’t broker a deal on delaying the introduction of Brussels red tape to ensure the smooth flow of trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
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The two sides agreed to meet again as soon as possible before the grace periods from EU rules expire at the end of March.
To keep the Irish border open, the area effectively remains part of the EU’s single market and some checks are now made on some products arriving from the rest of the UK.
But customs officials were recently forced to withdraw from Northern Ireland ports after threats to their safety.
The controls on trade between the region and mainland Britain have infuriated Unionists.
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In a joint statement, the EU and UK said: “The UK and the EU underlined their shared commitment to giving effect to those solutions agreed through the Joint Committee on 17 December 2020, without delay.
“The UK noted that it would provide a new operational plan with respect to supermarkets and their suppliers, alongside additional investment in digital solutions for traders in accordance with the Protocol.”
“Noting the need for ongoing engagement and the shared desire to act at pace, the UK and EU agreed that a further Joint Committee would be held to provide further steers and where appropriate approvals, and would liaise on timings.”
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