London’s demands on the Northern Ireland Protocol run the risk of a “further breakdown of relations” with the European Union, the Irish Foreign Minister warned on Sunday.
Simon Coveney wrote on Twitter that the UK’s demand that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) be stripped of its oversight of the Protocol would represent a new “barrier to progress that they know the EU cannot move forward.”
“Does the UK government want an agreed way forward or a further breakdown of relations,” he added.
UK Brexit Minister Lord David Frost also took to Twitter, writing that “the issue of governance and the CJEU is not new.”
“We expressed our concerns three months ago in our Command Paper of July 21. The problem is that very few people seem to have listened,” he added.
Brussels is expected to lay out our new proposals to break out of the stalemate on Northern Ireland trade deals this week.
Frost said the UK “will take everything you say seriously and positively. We will discuss it seriously and intensely.”
“But there needs to be a significant change in the current situation for there to be a positive outcome,” he also said.
London has been calling for a full review of the deal that currently sees Northern Ireland remain in the EU Single Market with controls to be carried out on certain goods traveling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
This effectively creates a de facto border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Protocol, negotiated in conjunction with the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, was seen as the best way to preserve the peace by avoiding the creation of a physical border between Northern Ireland and its southern neighbor, the Republic of Ireland and the member state of the European Union. He was endorsed by MPs in London and Brussels.
Brussels, meanwhile, has said it is open to changes as long as they are within the framework of the Protocol and has suspended its litigation process against the UK over its decision to unilaterally implement grace periods on checks as a sign of goodwill.
Both parties have blamed the other party for the lack of progress, accusing the other of being inflexible and warning that their patience is running out.
Speaking before a speech in Lisbon on Saturday, Frost argued that “the role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland and the consequent inability of the UK government to implement the very sensitive agreements in the protocol in a reasonable way has created a profound imbalance in the way the protocol operates.
The Times of London reported on Saturday that Brussels is likely to offer unimpeded access to products linked to Britain’s “national identity”, such as Cumberland sausages. The proposal is an attempt to avoid the so-called sausage war over chilled meats crossing the Irish Sea.
Frost’s office suggested on Saturday that the EU concessions would have to “go well beyond sausages.”
The British negotiator reiterated last week at the Conservative Party conference that London could activate Article 16 which allows either party to unilaterally withdraw from the deal if a solution is not found soon.
European Commission Vice President and Co-Chair of the EU-UK Joint Committee and Association Council, Maros Sefcovic, told reporters last month that the bloc aims to resolve any outstanding issues before the end of the year.