EU rejects reworking N.Ireland deal, urges rhetoric dial-down

Photo: AP EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic gives a press conference to present the European Commission 2021 Strategic Foresight report in Brussels, Belgium, 08 September 2021.

The European Union rejected a British demand to renegotiate their deal governing the trading position of Northern Ireland, saying that to so would only lead to instability and uncertainty, Reuters reports.

European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, who oversees post-Brexit EU relations with Britain, said in a speech on Friday that the Northern Ireland protocol needed to be properly implemented and that it was not the cause of problems, but the only solution.

"A renegotiation of the protocol – as the UK government is suggesting – would mean instability, uncertainty and unpredictability in Northern Ireland," he said, according to the text of his speech at Queen's University in Belfast.

Under the protocol, Britain agreed to leave some EU rules in place in Northern Ireland and accept checks on goods arriving from elsewhere in the United Kingdom. London has since said the arrangement is not working and wants it changed.

Sefcovic, on a two-day visit to the British province, said the EU was seeking solutions for all, including those opposed to the protocol.

"I know it is possible for us to work together, if rhetoric on both sides is dialled down," he said, adding that the spirit of compromise had to be mutual.
The head of Northern Ireland's largest pro-British party, the Democratic Unionist Party, threatened on Thursday to withdraw from the region's power-sharing government unless all barriers between the British province and the rest of the United Kingdom were removed.
Sefcovic said the EU was committed to working with Britain to overcome difficulties but any solutions could only minimise the effects of Brexit, not entirely remove them, given London's choice to leave the EU single market and customs union.
The commissioner said the two sides should continue discussions to limit the impact of the protocol on everyday life in Northern Ireland, while maintaining its special access to the EU's internal market.

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