The European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, businesses and politicians in Northern Ireland are trying to break the political deadlock there. This is the first time in seven months that the thread has been picked up again. “That in itself is a positive thing,” says Europe correspondent Stéphane de Vries.
Relations in Northern Ireland have been tense since Prime Minister Liz Truss – then foreign secretary – said he wanted to review the Brexit agreement. That agreement stated, among other things, that Northern Ireland had a special status in the European Union, but by wanting to abolish it, it creates all kinds of difficulties in trading across Northern Ireland’s borders.
Now that Truss is prime minister, nothing has changed about the situation. Europe correspondent Stéphane de Vries also notes. “It is the first time in seven months that the EU and the UK have met again, and that in itself is a positive thing.”
Indeed, de Vries asserts, the nature of conflict lies within the boundaries of states. “Between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the EU. Northern Ireland is actually on the island of Ireland, which is in the EU again, and is separate from Great Britain. This has actually been a very difficult situation since Brexit began six years ago.
De Vries sees that an impasse has been reached. Europe does not come out. “It is cut and ready; They think they have signed a clear treaty, but now the UK says something else must be found.
Northern Ireland Protocol
According to de Vries, the Northern Ireland Protocol also plays a major role in this situation. This protocol was created by the European Union and the British specifically to improve the workability of the difficult situation. Indeed, the consequence of this is that Northern Ireland has one foot in the European Union. When it comes to goods,” he continues. But the other leg belongs to the United Kingdom, which means Northern Ireland is no longer part of the European Union. The British government does not like this relationship, although they signed the agreement themselves. Now Liz Truss wants to renegotiate the deal. This protocol.
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From a legal point of view, however, the UK has no leg to stand on, de Vries believes. Truss wants something different, but the point is: The agreement is signed. And Europe knows this, and Brussels knows that the British can do nothing legally. But they also did not want to provoke conflict, so now negotiations are taking place again. Anyway: it’s still tough.
Firms, not truss
According to de Vries, the reason the EU has entered into talks with companies and not Prime Minister Truss, for example, is because they “get the wind straight from the front”. “They struggle with protocol, because they are between a rock and a hard place.” Half in the EU, the other half not. This also causes internal unrest, because part of Northern Ireland’s politics wants to stay with the United Kingdom. These are the Unionists, but for the first time the Catholic Sinn Féin wants to join Ireland. They are also in government and less keen to stay with the British.
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So the EU will also have to deal with internal political issues in Northern Ireland, so the Europeans will have to be “very careful” to deal with the situation. “They really have to walk on eggshells to resolve this situation,” de Vries concludes. Each time the Europeans joined the British, but what exactly they wanted remains unclear.
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