Brussels is calling for a reset of EU-UK relations to address key issues


The EU’s Brexit negotiator called for a strategic partnership with the United Kingdom to address key issues, including climate change and European security, saying resolving the Northern Ireland dispute would “restore political confidence”.

Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission, said London and Brussels should work to resolve “politically sensitive issues” Northern Ireland Protocol at the beginning of the new year and before the start of the campaign for the May elections for the regional assembly.

Speaking to the Financial Times on Friday, the day before British Brexit Minister Lord The resignation of David Frost became public, Šefcović welcomed the more “constructive” approach of the United Kingdom in the last two weeks. London has given up on demand for European Court of Justice lost its role in enforcing the protocol and signaled further compromises, which some political observers believe prompted Frost’s decision to give up.

On Sunday, Sefcovic declined to comment on Frost’s resignation.

He said the Northern Ireland agreement would allow the two sides “to move to where I think we should both belong: on the global stage, where we are tackling global climate change challenges, some security threats from the edge of Europe and really developing that strategic element of our cooperation ”.

He said he expected the legal proceedings against the United Kingdom to remain frozen provided a more constructive dialogue continued, adding that his goal was to “depoliticize and dramatize” the relationship between London and Brussels. “We don’t want more conflict, we want less.”

But the Slovak former diplomat added that the UK is a threat from initiating Article 16, which would suspend most of the protocol, made it difficult to advance other aspects of the relationship, including UK membership in Horizon scientific research program, which remains suspended. He called on London to “return the value of the signatures below the signed agreements”.

“For our part, we pay much more attention to studying the documents we sign.”

Frost’s hardline stance, however, persuaded Brussels to offer changes to the protocol in October, accepting it was creating trade disruption and political concern in Northern Ireland.

The protocol avoided the trade border on the island of Ireland by keeping the region in the EU’s single market, and instead checks are taking place between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.

Brussels passed a law on Friday to ensure that British medicines can still be sold there. He also offered an “express lane” for goods going to Northern Ireland that are unlikely to leak across the border into Ireland and the wider single market.

It is claimed that the changes would halve customs and health checks by 80 percent, although the UK has questioned those figures, resulting in talks barely progressing.

Sefcovic said he could guarantee the cuts, but “it all depends on the quality of the UK’s safeguards”, such as giving the EU real-time access to customs data.

“Can a proven trade scheme really be trusted? What will happen if we have some kind of public health alert, some rotten shrimp or some damaged goods that need to be pulled off the shelves?

“Why are you telling us that putting a label on a‘ UK only ’food product is a big problem when you have a label on everything on the shelves that you can take two for the price of three or there is a discount? What is cosmically difficult here? ”

He called for an end to “political dramas”. “Ninety percent of the problems come to us. . . it can be solved at the technical level.

“It would be good to resolve this as soon as possible.”


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