In the wake of Brexit, France and the rest of the EU are refusing to back down from their promises to retaliate against the United Kingdom.
Today, the EU Commission will present a package of measures aimed at making it easier for goods to be transported to Northern Ireland, but these measures will fall short of the wholesale changes that London wants to see made to the province’s commercial regulations after Brexit.
To make customs clearance easier, the EU executive has taken measures to facilitate the flow of food, medicines, and other commodities.
However, the protocol governing Northern Ireland’s specific trading position will not be up for renegotiation, putting Brussels and London on a collision course that might result in a trade war.
France, along with the rest of the EU, is standing by its pledge to retaliate against the United Kingdom.
On top of that, the EU Commission has been preparing a range of legal proceedings against the UK, from infringement procedures to an all-out trade war, and that gives them some peace of mind.
“If the British want to play hardball, so will we,” said one EU ambassador to Politico.
In a joint statement, ten EU members backed France in criticising the UK’s approach to post-Brexit fishing licences, which was signed on Monday.
It said, “We call on the United Kingdom to provide a response as soon as possible and to engage in further technical work in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the Agreement.”
According to the document, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands all backed the French document……………………………………
According to EU diplomats present at the conference, Denmark, Malta, Lithuania, and Latvia also expressed their support.
On Wednesday, Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, who is in charge of EU-UK relations, will give a press conference to discuss the new plans with EU countries and members of the European Parliament.
In addition, the Commission will lay out strategies for reaching out to the people of Northern Ireland.
Supermarkets in Northern Ireland may be permitted to import chilled meat items from the United Kingdom that are currently prohibited from entering the EU, and hence from the United Kingdom into Northern Ireland.
As long as Northern Ireland is still a part of the United Kingdom, its exports to the rest of the EU are free of customs checks, duties, or paperwork.
With this partnership, Sefcovic says Northern Irish companies may benefit from both worlds. What it does, however, is create a functional sea border between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, causing friction in trade between the two countries.
So, for example, sausages made in the United Kingdom may be imported into Northern Ireland if they were only sold to people in the province.
“That’s our proposal. We will put it on the table.” Last Monday, Sefcovic stated that “If this is rejected, then indeed we have a problem.”
Announcing that London would be ready to examine the suggestions “whatever they say,” UK Brexit Minister David Frost also called for a new, “forward-looking” protocol that would be free of European court scrutiny.
As far as the EU is concerned, no one other than the EU’s highest court has the authority to make decisions affecting the EU’s single market.
According to Sefcovic, when he visited Northern Ireland last month, hardly nobody brought up the European Court of Justice as a concern.