The EU has threatened to suspend parts of Brexit agreement and warns ‘patience wearing thin’

June 09, 2021 - 08:37 PM - 278 views

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic says patience with the UK is wearing ‘very, very thin’ as US President Biden prepares to warn warn UK and EU not to “imperil” the Northern Ireland peace process

Brussels has threatened to suspend parts of the Brexit deal as relations between the UK and EU plunged further over the failure to reach a breakthrough on the Northern Ireland protocol. 

The UK Government accused the EU of “resorting to threats” after the latest round of negotiations to reach an agreement on the implementation of the protocol failed to make any progress. 

The continued impasse prompted President Joe Biden’s administration to warn that the protocol is “critical” in preserving the Good Friday Agreement. 

Two days of talks between Brexit minister Lord Frost and European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic ended on Wednesday with both sides at odds over the implementation of the Brexit deal.

In a press conference in London after the discussions, Mr Sefcovic insisted that the UK was failing to  implement the deal it had signed up to. 

He said patience in Brussels was wearing “very, very thin”, and he warned the EU would be prepared to slap tariffs and quotas on Britain as well as “suspend cooperation in certain sectors”, such as in areas of trade and services.

“There are still numerous and fundamental gaps in the UKs implementation of our agreement,” he said.

“These gaps need to be filled by a mutually agreed compliant path with concrete deadlines and milestones for the UK to fulfil its existing obligations.”

A senior UK official involved in the talks claimed Brussels was taking an “excessively purist” interpretation of the Northern Ireland protocol. 

Its approach “actually risks undermining the overriding purpose of the protocol, which is for the Good Friday Agreement in the peace process”, the source said.       Lord Frost stepped threats of his own, telling reporters after the negotiations that the UK would not rule out triggering Article 16 of the protocol 

The Tory peer added: “It’s obviously best to find a negotiated agreement if we can and that’s what we are really intending to do. If we can’t, and we’re working very hard to do it, then obviously we consider all our options for next steps.”

Pressed on the possibility of triggering Article 16, he said: “There’s a range of things we may consider and we continue to consider them.”

The White House called on both sides to reach an agreement. It comes on the eve of the first meeting between President Biden and Boris Johnson in Cornwall on Thursday at the G7. 


The US president’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told the BBC: “President Biden believes and has said that the Northern Ireland Protocol, as part of the agreement between the UK and the European Union, is critical to ensuring that the spirit, promise and future of the Good Friday Agreement is protected.

“But whatever way they find to proceed must, at its core, fundamentally protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement and not imperil that.

“And that is the message that President Biden will send when he is in Cornwall.”

Comments(0)

Log in to comment