World Ireland says not informed by EU about triggering Brexit protocol
PM calls for 'urgent action' from EU after it 'undermined' Northern Ireland agreement
Boris Johnson has called for "urgent action" from the EU to resolve "outstanding problems" with the post-Brexit arrangement for Northern Ireland. © Imagebridge There is opposition to the Protocol within Northern Ireland The prime minister accused Brussels of having "undermined" and "provoked concern" over the Northern Ireland Protocol, following the recent row over COVID vaccines.But he vowed that Northern Ireland's place in the UK will be "protected and strengthened".
Ireland was not consulted by the European Commission before it briefly sought to restrict some exports of COVID-19 vaccines by invoking an emergency Brexit clause related to Northern Ireland, Ireland’s European Affairs Minister said.
The EU abruptly reversed the plan to use the Article 16 clause to restrict exports of COVID-19 vaccines from crossing the Irish border into the United Kingdom within a matter of hours on Friday after it sent shockwaves through Northern Ireland, London and Dublin.
NIreland halts post-Brexit checks over staff safety
Border inspections at two Northern Irish ports were suspended on Tuesday, after staff were threatened over contentious new Brexit controls in the long-divided British province. The development comes just over a month into new trading arrangements after Britain's departure from the European single market, and warnings they could stoke lingering sectarian sentiment in Northern Ireland. The European Commission said staff working at the two border posts in Northern Ireland were also told "not to attend to their duties" on Tuesday after the "threat of violence" prompted regional authorities to pull staff from ports.
The initial decision to use the Brexit clause – part of wider EU plans to control the exports of vaccines – illustrated how the carefully tuned Northern Ireland Brexit protocol can go awry, as well as showing the panic over vaccine availability.
“This type of provision is standard in trade agreements but in the Northern Ireland situation, it obviously has a different political resonance and it’s perhaps the case that this wasn’t fully appreciated by the drafters,” Ireland’s Europe Minister Thomas Byrne told Newstalk radio on Saturday.
“Clearly a mistake was made,” Byrne said. “It’s too early for me to say (how it happened) … It’s clear the implications of Article 16 weren’t fully thought through, that’s a pity, but it’s a lesson to us all at this point.”
Delays in deliveries: the EU refrains from entering a vaccine war with the United Kingdom
© JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP The European Commission adopted on Friday January 29 a mechanism to control exports outside the United Kingdom EU vaccines. (Photo illustration) The European Union finally backed down on Friday evening from including Northern Ireland in the vaccine export control mechanism announced earlier today on Friday.
Asked if Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin was given any forewarning of the planned triggering of the provision, devised as a last resort to alleviate serious disruption to trade in Northern Ireland after Brexit, Byrne said he was not.
Three senior EU diplomats said member states were neither consulted on, or informed of, the commission’s decision.
“It seems the commission took this decision unilaterally,” an EU official said.
The official said it appeared the commission’s intention was to include Northern Ireland in the vaccines export control regime, but that this effectively created a land border on the island of Ireland, and it had to row back when it realised the implications.
Preserving the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland, without allowing the UK to become a back door into the EU’s markets through the UK-Irish land border, led to the inclusion of the protocol in Britain’s divorce deal.
Brexit: EU temporarily withdraws staff from ports in Northern Ireland
GB-UNION-IRELAND-NORTH-STAFF: Brexit: EU temporarily withdraws staff from ports in Northern Ireland © Reuters / PHIL NOBLE BREXIT: EU TEMPORARILY WITHDRAW ITS STAFF FROM NORTHERN IRELAND PORTS LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union on Tuesday announced the withdrawal of its staff responsible for checks at Northern Ireland's ports in due to security concerns, against a backdrop of post-Brexit tensions.
The protocol achieved this by keeping Northern Ireland both in the EU’s single market for goods, and the UK’s customs territory, and “is not something to be tampered with lightly,” Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney warned on Friday.
Following the diplomatic row, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster urged Britain to remove the post-Brexit protocol with the EU.
“The protocol is unworkable, let’s be very clear about that, and we need to see it replaced because otherwise there is going to be real difficulties here in Northern Ireland,” Foster told BBC radio on Saturday.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful, and I have to say the Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) now needs to act very quickly to deal with the real trade flows that are being disrupted between Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” added Foster who has long been critical of the protocol.
EU withdraws plans to control exports of COVID vaccines into Northern Ireland - sources .
The EU has withdrawn its plans to control the exports of COVID-19 vaccines into Northern Ireland, according to Sky sources. © Other A statement is expected shortly.The controversy comes amid an EU row with vaccine maker AstraZeneca over delays in the delivery of doses to the 27 members of the bloc. Brussels on Friday triggered Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol that forms part of the Brexit withdrawal deal.By doing so, the EU tried to stop the unimpeded flow of coronavirus jabs from the bloc into the region.