Northern Ireland Protocol talks in deadlock as UK rejects EU’s proposals

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The United Kingdom rejected proposals from the European Union on Monday to solve post-Brexit trade disputes regarding the movement of medicines, livestock and animal products with Northern Ireland.

On medicines, “the solution the EU has set out today remains the same as the one they sent to us in late June – the EU has not addressed the issues and concerns that we have raised with them,” a UK government spokesperson said in a statement sent to Euronews.

Brussels outlined its proposals in two non-papers published on Monday. It suggested that procedures such as inspections and quality controls “may exceptionally be located in the UK,” instead of the EU, provided the medicines are sold only in Northern Ireland.

But London said the plan would be “would be complex to operate, onerous and would not deal at all with those medicines, such as new cancer drugs, which under current arrangements must be licensed by the European Medicines Agency in Northern Ireland.”

The Northern Ireland Protocol agreed by London and Brussels as part of their Brexit divorce demands that checks be carried out on certain goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The British province has remained inside the EU’s customs union in an effort to protect the Good Friday Agreement that put an end to decades of sectarian violence, effectively creating a border in the Irish Sea.

But the arrangement has a caused tensions with Northern Ireland’s unionists, who say it amounts to a border in the Irish Sea that weakens ties to the rest of Britain.

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London has threatened to unilaterally extend the protocol’s grace period until 2023, which Brussels has categorically rejected.

“The EU will continue to be creative and flexible within the Protocol framework,’’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet after a call from British Prime Minister Johnson last week. “But we will not renegotiate.’’

Commenting on the latest EU proposals, a UK government spokesperson insisted on Monday that a broader review of the Protocol was needed.

“The issue is that what the EU is presenting as a package of solutions is in fact only a small subset of the many difficulties caused by the way the Protocol is operating. We need comprehensive and durable solutions if we are to avoid further disruption to everyday lives in Northern Ireland. ”


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