EU to press UK’s Johnson to adhere to N.Ireland protocol

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EU institution leaders will tell British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 summit that Britain and the EU had both agreed the protocol governing Northern Ireland trade arrangements and that Britain must apply it and not make unilateral changes.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that the protocol was the “one and only solution” to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and that she still saw “fundamental gaps” in Britain’s implementation of it.

“We will discuss that in a trilateral meeting in Cornwall together. We are determined to do everything to keep peace and stability on the island of Ireland. It is important that there is deep respect for the protocol,” she told a news conference.

She said both sides had also signed up to a dispute settlement mechanism, with potential for remedial measures that can be taken, but did not specify what action the EU would take if Britain failed to respect the protocol. 

Britain should respect its post-Brexit commitments, especially on Northern Ireland and fishing, and the EU is entitled to take action if that should not be the case, said French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, who added he was “very worried” by Britain’s behaviour.

“I’m very worried by the British behaviour so far,” Beaune told the Public Senat TV channel on Thursday.

Beaune’s comments came as U.S. President Joe Biden brought a grave Brexit warning to his first meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson: Prevent a row with the European Union from imperiling the delicate peace in Northern Ireland.

British trade policy minister on the other hand called for a more pragmatic approach from the European Union over the operation of the Northern Irish protocol.

“We absolutely agree that preserving the peace in Northern Ireland but to do that does need a more pragmatic approach with the European Union in terms of how it interprets the protocol,” British minister of state for trade policy Greg Hands told Sky News on Thursday. 

U.S. President Joe Biden brings a grave Brexit warning to his first meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson: Prevent a row with the European Union from imperiling the delicate peace in Northern Ireland.

On his first trip abroad since taking office in January, Biden meets Johnson on Thursday in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay ahead of a Friday-Sunday G7 summit, a NATO summit on Monday, a U.S.-EU summit on Tuesday and a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva the following day.

Photo: A European flag and a Union Jack flag on the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ