July 24, 2021

Brexit and UK-EU dispute over Northern Ireland plague the G7

How to sabotage a G7 summit presented as historic, supposed to take crucial decisions to stop the Covid-19 pandemic and fight against climate change? By continuing, as Boris Johnson and the European leaders have done, a showdown as distressing as it is never-ending over Northern Ireland. The “Sausage war” threatened, Sunday, June 13, the last day of the summit chaired by the British Prime Minister in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, to obscure the announcements of vaccine donations and the release of funds to protect the oceans.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Joe Biden and Boris Johnson mute their Northern Ireland dispute

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, had nevertheless taken care not to aggravate the already very tense relations between London and Brussels, concerning the Northern Irish protocol, part of the Brexit treaty that the Johnson government agreed to endorse at the end of 2019, but which he now disputes the application.

“We will not hesitate to invoke article 16”

Mr Biden, very proud of his Irish roots, had shared his “Deep concern” upstream of the summit, through diplomatic channels, about the peace process in Northern Ireland, weakened by Brexit, but he had ruled ” very productive ” his bilateral meeting with Mr Johnson, Thursday, June 10.

“The Prime Minister and the President reaffirmed their commitments to the North Irish Peace Treaty of the Good Friday Agreement [l’accord du Vendredi saint, signé en 1998]. They agree that the European Union [UE] and the United Kingdom have a common responsibility and must find pragmatic solutions in order to allow unhindered trade between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain ”, said a spokesperson for Downing Street after the meeting.

Read also: London plays with fire in Northern Ireland

However, the discussion very quickly got out of hand, from Saturday 12 June. Surprisingly, it was Mr Johnson who put a part back in the machine. “Our European friends have heard our arguments spoken with force, we will do whatever it takes to protect the integrity of our country”, said the British Prime Minister. And to add, during an interview with the Sky News channel: “If the EU continues to present us with all kinds of obstacles rather than applying the protocol ‘in a reasonable way'”, so “We will not hesitate to invoke article 16 [du protocole nord-irlandais] ».

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