Northern Ireland 'very worried' about Article 16 says Bassett
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Post-Brexit arrangements concerning the Northern Ireland Protocol have been a cause of extensive friction between the European Union and the UK. Compromise on the existing EU judges issue could however be “within reach”, according to sources.
Sources claim a deal could soon be on the cards in the ongoing negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The sticking point has been the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The European Commission said Britain’s insistence on ending the Luxembourg court’s oversight made a deal difficult to reach.
But the UK has argued it is unfair and impractical for an EU organisation to have such an important role over British matters.
There is a potential compromise on this hot button issue, according to sources.
The role of EU judges has been one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to agreeing a new Northern Ireland Brexit deal.
On Thursday, insiders said a deal was within reach, according to talks which now appear likely to stretch into the new year.
UK officials claim a “potential” fix for the EU judges issue has been agreed.
One source told the Telegraph: “There is potential to divide the issue between what governs the rules of the single market and what oversees disputes with the UK.”
The compromise would see the ECJ would continue to oversee questions of EU law in almost all cases where the single market is concerned.
However, there would be an exception in cases where Brussels took the UK to the Luxembourg based court for failing to implement EU law in Northern Ireland.
UK Brexit Minister Lord David Frost said a deal can be done with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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Lord Frost has repeatedly said it is “highly unusual” for a non-EU country to be judged in the same way as EU member states.
The Brexit Minister instead proposes cases be heard by an independent arbitration panel.
This adjudicating authority would be created based on the system in the UK-EU trade agreement.
Currently, until this point of the Protocol is agreed upon, Northern Ireland continues to adhere to around 300 EU rules.
Brussels sources claim a deal could be within reach because a fudge could be found on this issue.
This “fudge” would essentially mean the EU court would be involved in only very last resort circumstances.
An EU source told the Telegraph: “There will always be a tread softly approach on anything ECJ because triggering it would be so acrimonious.”
The European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who has repeatedly issues warnings to Britain against triggering Article 16 over this issue, is due to meet with Lord Frost in Brussels on Friday.
The pair are expected to announce a deal guaranteeing the continued supply of new and existing medicines in Northern Ireland or significant progress towards it.
The bloc has also said it will cut customs checks by 50 percent after the UK said the current customs procedures are untenable.
The ongoing talks will, however, likely run into December, sources claim.
Lord Frost calmed escalating tensions regarding using Article 16 to suspend parts of the Protocol this week.
He told BBC News: “I would like to progress this as fast as we possibly can, I’m glad there’s ambition on the EU see from what Simon says.
“I think it can be done. Whether it will be done is a different question.
“It’s got to be a deal that deals with the problems, solve the underlying problems and makes a difference to businesses and people’s lives.”
Lord Frost has maintained Article 16 remains “very much on the table”.
No decision has been taken as to timing for the clause, Lord Frost said.
He added it would be “shaped by whether and how quickly negotiations progress”.
Officials from both sides are said to be keen to broker an agreement before France assumes the EU’s rotating presidency in January.
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