Article 16 ‘very much on the table’ in Brexit row, says Frost

1 year ago 116

David Frost, the UK’s Brexit minister, has said triggering article 16 to suspend post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland is “very overmuch connected the table”, arsenic helium met his EU counterpart successful Brussels.

After 3 weeks of talks implicit the Northern Ireland protocol, Lord Frost said clip was moving out, arsenic EU sources besides spoke of heavy pessimism astir the chances of a palmy outcome.

“We anticipation to marque immoderate advancement but honestly the spread betwixt america is inactive rather significant, but let’s spot wherever we tin get to,” Frost said earlier a gathering with Maroš Šefčovič, the EU commissioner for Brexit. “We’re not going to trigger nonfiction 16 today, but nonfiction 16 is precise overmuch connected the array and has been since July.”

He added: “Time is moving retired connected these talks if we are to marque advancement … If we tin scope an agreement, a consensual agreement, connected the protocol that provides a sustainable solution past that’s the champion mode forward.”

Frost had acceptable the EU a three-week deadline aft the 12 October work successful Brussels of a program to drastically trim the level of checks connected commercialized going from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.

It is wide expected, however, that immoderate determination connected nonfiction 16 volition beryllium made aft the Cop26 clime talks successful Glasgow, which are owed to extremity connected 12 November.

Frost said: “I’m not going to springiness immoderate timescales oregon immoderate hypotheticals. We are trying to scope an statement and we’re moving precise hard and transportation connected trying. There’s a important spread betwixt us. If that spread narrows and the committee listens to what we person said successful the bid insubstantial and looks astatine the concern successful Northern Ireland, past possibly that volition assistance america determination things forward.”

Under the protocol, Northern Ireland successful effect remains successful the azygous marketplace for goods, and the EU’s customs rulebook is enforced connected goods entering from Britain and different non-EU countries.

Brussels has conceded that the implementation of these arrangements has created governmental disruption successful Northern Ireland and it has committed to reducing the controls connected commercialized from Britain.

Frost insists, however, that specified remedies would not spell acold enough. The UK authorities is seeking to support Northern Ireland wrong the azygous marketplace but without a relation for the European tribunal of justness arsenic arbiter of whether EU instrumentality is being followed.

Article 16 of the protocol allows either broadside to instrumentality unilateral “safeguard measures” if it causes “serious economic, societal oregon biology difficulties”.

There has been speculation that the UK could usage it to instrumentality its imaginativeness for Northern Ireland, arsenic outlined successful a July bid paper. However, the pact lone allows for “strictly necessary” actions “to remedy the situation”. There is ongoing statement successful authorities astatine what this legally permits.

Should the UK trigger nonfiction 16, determination volition beryllium a scope of options disposable to the EU, including giving announcement of terminating the commercialized and practice statement that ensures tariff-free trade. But EU sources said it was improbable that Brussels would leap to specified a determination fixed the scope of different options wrong the pact to respond to the UK, including targeted tariffs pursuing arbitration.