As discussions between the UK and the EU continue to deteriorate, Emmanuel Macron is becoming increasingly frustrated with Brussels’ soft response to the current Brexit negotiating row.
According to reports, French President Emmanuel Macron is pressuring the EU to be tougher on Downing Street in the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations. According to EU diplomats, the European Commission is set to publish proposals by the end of September to improve the movement of products from the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland in an effort to reduce tensions caused by Brexit.
The EU turned down a British attempt to renegotiate the British province’s new trading status. However, Maros Sefcovic, a deputy president of the EU Commission, pledged “creative and solid new solutions” under the current arrangement last week.
In order to maintain an open land border with Ireland, an EU member state, Britain agreed to leave some EU rules in place in Northern Ireland and allow inspections on goods arriving from the rest of the UK under the so-called protocol.
However, London has now stated that this is ineffective and that it must be modified.
According to EU diplomats, the Commission’s fresh plans, which include increased political and other participation in Northern Ireland, will be unveiled this month.
“Possible solutions would centre around making existing checks less laborious, limiting the amount of paperwork needed,” said one EU diplomat familiar with the Brexit situation, adding that the Commission may propose legal amendments on the 27-nation side to allow for more leniency toward Britain.
However, according to Politico, “frustration at the Brits is simmering in national capitals”.
“Calls for the EU to put its foot down are growing — especially from France, which is fiercely protective of the single market.” they continued.
Catherine Colonna, the French Ambassador to the United Kingdom, said on Tuesday: “‘The reason the UK is so belligerent is precisely because the EU is so accommodating’ is an opinion we hear more and more here. Troubling.”
According to a second diplomat, the new package is set to go beyond previous Commission ideas, which included passage for guiding dogs, simplified livestock tagging, and better pharmaceutical circulation.
On Wednesday, national ambassadors to the EU will discuss the proposals, followed by a conference of national ministers in charge of European affairs on September 21.
The extension of grace periods on additional checks and trade restrictions that the EU believes necessary to defend its 450 million-strong single market beyond September has created some breathing room for negotiations.
David Frost, the UK’s Brexit minister, warned on Monday that the EU needs to move forward in the protocol negotiations, threatening that London may unilaterally suspend it.
The European Commission, which monitors EU-UK ties on behalf of the EU’s 27 member states, has stated that it is willing to flexibly interpret the protocol but not amend it, rejecting outright a British demand to terminate European Court of Justice oversight.