“If the protocol continues to be applied in this way, we will not hesitate to invoke Article 16, as I said before,” Johnson said in an interview with Sky News, arguing that European countries “need to get it through their heads” that the UK is indivisible.
Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to the UK Exit Agreement allows for its suspension if its application “gives serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.
The EU and the UK are in open conflict because the latter took unilateral measures to mitigate the impact of introducing customs controls on the movement of some goods, such as fresh food, which prompted the European Commission to lift an infringement case in March.
Under the Protocol, Northern Ireland has remained in practice in the single market, with customs controls being introduced on goods arriving from Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) to avoid a physical border with neighboring Ireland.
An open border is one of the conditions of the 1998 peace accords that ended decades of sectarian violence between Catholics, Republicans in favor of the reunification of the entire island, and Protestants, ‘unionists’ who want the territory to remain under the British crown.
It was this issue that delayed an understanding in the UK’s exit process from the EU, which started in 2017 but was only completed in 2020 thanks to this Protocol, which critics consider creating a border in Northern Ireland.
“I think the agreement we signed is perfectly reasonable, but I don’t think the EU’s application or interpretation of the protocol is sensible or pragmatic,” the British leader told Sky News today.
Today, on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, southwest England, Boris Johnson met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.
The meeting focused exclusively on this theme and Brussels asked for the tone to be moderated, while accepting the need to find solutions, sources of the community executive said.
However, they also reiterated that the Protocol was signed by both parties and must be implemented.
The topic was also addressed this morning in Boris Johnson’s bilateral meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
“There is total unity of the EU on this issue,” wrote von der Leyen and Michel on Twitter in an identical manner.
In recent weeks, the EU has suggested that the UK accept an agreement in which it would commit to complying with European standards for sanitary and phytosanitary issues, like Switzerland.
However, the British Government does not want “dynamic alignment” and prefers a system of mutual recognition of their respective systems, which were integrated until the UK’s exit from the single market.
The EU has threatened to react “quickly” and “firmly” if the British government takes new unilateral decisions, including an extension of the adaptation period for chilled meat, which was due to end on June 30, threatening to create, according to British media, a ” sausage war”.
Also Read: Brexit: Macron Asks Johnson to Respect “Given Word”
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