The European Union does not loosen and continues to demand that London comply with the provisions on Northern Ireland contained in the Withdrawal Agreement. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that “the EU is determined to make the Irish protocol work.” The German will transfer the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, during the G-7 summit in Cornwall (United Kingdom) that is willing to show “flexibility” for the implementation of these agreements, provided that their application is guaranteed.
Brussels’ position in the conflict with the UK over Northern Ireland has received a boost from the Joe Biden Administration, which has blamed the UK for “inflaming tension” with Ireland and the EU. The community bloc continues to make a bad balance of the first months of the divorce. Von der Leyen recalled that until now there have been breaches and “unilateral measures” in the application of this protocol. In fact, the meeting held last Wednesday in London between the two parties ended without any progress.
Johnson justifies these actions on the demands of Northern Irish unionism and the street violence unleashed in the British province. These explanations are not valid for the EU. “Agreements are to be kept [los acuerdos deben cumplirse]”Insisted the German, who stressed that the EU is willing to” do everything to maintain peace and stability “in the area. Unlike Johnson, however, the Twenty-Seven believe that the only way to preserve the Good Friday accords is to avoid a hard border on the island. And the only option that both parties validated just six months ago was to move it to the Irish Sea.
Von der Leyen, Johnson and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, will take advantage of the margins of the G-7 summit, which starts this Friday, to try to iron out differences on that dispute. The president of the Community Executive once again opened up to be flexible with the United Kingdom. However, always within the terms of the protocol, which so far Johnson has not hesitated to exceed. “We have shown flexibility and we will show flexibility. But the withdrawal protocol and agreement must be fully implemented, “added Von der Leyen.
Despite the fact that the United Kingdom left the EU permanently on January 1, the protocol on Northern Ireland that accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement establishes that this area continues to be part of the European Single Market. In practice, this means that instead of having a hard border splitting the island, controls must be established in the ports of the British province. However, Johnson has decided to unilaterally postpone that surveillance, which led Brussels to launch a sanctioning procedure that could end up before the European justice.
The President of the Commission recalled that the Northern Ireland protocol is not an imposition of Brussels. The British Secretary of State for the EU, David Frost, even accused the EU of “legal purism”. Von der Leyen reminded them that this region had been one of the main points discussed with both former Prime Minister Theresa May and Johnson himself. “We have been debating it for years and we found that it was the only solution,” said the German, who recalled that the Brexit agreements already include mechanisms to resolve disputes and corrective measures. At his side, Michel nodded and recalled that compliance with these agreements is “a matter of the rule of law.” “We will use all the tools at our disposal to ensure that we defend our interests, that we protect the integrity of the single market and that we guarantee a level playing field,” added the Belgian.