By RAF CASERT, Associated Press

BRUSSELS (AP) – The UK on Friday rejected European Union proposals to streamline trade in goods in Northern Ireland as insufficient, further deepening the standoff between the two sides and bringing the prospect of a post-Brexit trade war.

The British government has said after unsuccessful talks between its negotiator David Frost and his counterpart Maros Sefcovic that the EU is proposing to revamp the deal with Northern Ireland, which the bloc of 27 countries saw as far-reaching and unprecedented. , “Was not currently effectively addressing fundamental issues.

Beyond the rejection of his proposals, Sefcovic replied that “we have not seen any movement on the British side. I find that disappointing.

In addition to the dispute over how to facilitate trade in goods from Northern Ireland to the UK, where the complicated Brexit deal also left the region in the EU’s Single Trade Zone, the two sides have also made no progress in negotiations on British fishing licenses of symbolic significance. off France.

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Talks will continue in London next week.

Frost also continued to threaten to suspend the agreement with Northern Ireland under the so-called Article 16 procedure. He said it was “very much on the table since July”.

Article 16 is a clause in the EU-UK Protocol on Northern Ireland allowing either party to suspend that part of the agreement in exceptional circumstances.

Sefcovic said the impact of such a move would be serious. “There is no doubt that triggering Article 16 … would have serious – serious consequences for Northern Ireland. This is what leads to instability and unpredictability.”

Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, shares a land border with Ireland, a member of the EU. The Brexit deal gives it special trade status which guarantees open borders on the island of Ireland. It has been a vital pillar of the Northern Ireland peace process since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 which ended years of violence.

Analysts say it would only be a small step from a suspension of Article 16 to a trade war.

The current agreement signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been controversial from the start as it means a new customs border in the Irish Sea for goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, even if they do. part of the same country.

This has created red tape for businesses and caused problems with some goods reaching Northern Ireland. EU rules on chilled meats have resulted in a brief shortage of sausages, and now Britain says Christmas cookies – festive noisemakers who are a staple for the holiday season – are prevented from reaching Northern Ireland.

The EU has said it has already offered major concessions to cut red tape for trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, but London also wants to get rid of legal oversight from the highest court in the ‘EU, what Brussels defined as a red line.

Problems with fishing licenses further complicated relations. Although fishing is a small industry economically for Britain and France, the issue of boat access to the waters dividing the two maritime powers has become a major irritant in addition to the issue of Northern Ireland. .

France claims Britain is breaking a commitment in the EU-UK trade deal made last year by not giving enough licenses to its Norman fishermen seeking access to Crown dependencies, Jersey and Guernsey. Britain says it still doesn’t have enough evidence that some fishermen have historic rights to go there.

Follow AP’s coverage of post-Brexit developments at https://apnews.com/hub/Brexit

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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