Brexit and Northern Ireland: EU and British far from agreement

The EU is pushing into the dispute over the Brexit-Special rules for Northern Ireland towards a joint solution with the UK government. The ongoing legal steps taken by the EU Commission against Great Britain would continue, said Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic on Friday morning after talks with British Brexit Minister David Frost in Brussels the previous evening.

Frost said again that "difficult subject areas" were still unresolved in the negotiations, so there should be further discussions. Any solution must respect the Good Friday Agreement on Peace in Northern Ireland and avoid disturbing everyday life in the British province as much as possible.

According to the EU, another round of talks is planned within the next two weeks. Brussels accuses London of violating the Northern Ireland protocol agreed in the Brexit agreement.

The protocol is intended to prevent border controls on the land border between the British province and the EU member Ireland. Controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain are planned for this. In early March, however, London announced that it would continue not to control exports of food and agricultural products to Northern Ireland for the time being.

The Commission therefore initiated infringement proceedings and activated the so-called dispute settlement mechanism provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. According to Sefcovic, the process will "continue as long as it is necessary."

Due to the dispute, the EU Parliament is threatening not to ratify the trade agreement negotiated with Great Britain at the end of last year. Although the parliamentary committees for foreign trade and foreign affairs voted for the trade agreement on Thursday, the necessary vote in the parliamentary plenary was deliberately not yet scheduled.