EU rebuffs UK call on resetting post-Brexit relationship

The EU bluntly rebuffed the UK’s call to reset the two sides’ relationship, saying Britain needs to honour the promises it made on Northern Ireland as part of the Brexit deal, news wires reported citing a letter by Commission VP Maros Sefcovic.

In the letter to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, he gave a cool response to Britain’s request to delay the implementation of border checks on some goods entering the province, saying that measures the UK previously signed up to “urgently need to be fully and faithfully implemented.” The two are set to meet in London today.

Speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday, Gove said the part of the Brexit deal covering Northern Ireland wasn’t working, and called for a reset in the EU’s relationship with Britain. Unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland effectively remained in the EU’s customs union and single market after Brexit, a concession PM Boris Johnson made to the bloc in order to secure Britain’s orderly departure.

With goods crossing the Irish Sea facing delays and disruption, Gove is seeking to postpone the introduction of full checks on food destined for supermarkets, medicines and parcels moving into the province from the rest of the UK until 2023. But “blanket derogations” from EU law as set out in the deal “in respect of Northern Ireland cannot be agreed beyond what the Protocol foresees already,” Sefcovic said in the letter.

He also said granting more flexibility around checks on seeds and pets crossing the border “would entail the UK committing to align with the relevant EU rules.” Sefcovic also set out a list of what he called “shortcomings” in the British implementation of the deal, saying border control posts are still not fully operational and data-sharing aren’t in place.

More on this subject: Brexit

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