UK News Government committed to rights safeguards in NI Protocol, Lord Frost says
EU to consider all of its tools if Article 16 is triggered
Maros Sefcovic said there was a ‘change in tone’ in the latest round of talks with Brexit Minister Lord David Frost. © Provided by PA Media EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic (Hollie Adams/PA) He told the special select committee that the EU is is fully committed to protecting Good Friday Agreement.“However, I have to say that I worry about the rhetoric and action of the UK as regards the implementation of the agreement and in particular the protocol,” Mr Sefcovic added.“Last Friday, I held my fourth weekly meeting with David Frost on the EU package of solutions.
The UK Government remains firmly committed to the equality and human rights safeguards within the Northern Ireland Protocol, Lord Frost has insisted.
The Brexit minister made clear his attempts to secure changes to the protocol are only focused on the trade-related elements.
Article 2 of the protocol commits the UK to ensuring that Brexit will see “no diminution” of the extensive rights provisions that were enshrined in Northern Ireland as a result of the Good Friday peace agreement.
EU law underpinned many of the equality and anti-discrimination laws that flowed from the 1998 accord.
M&S chairman warns EU proposals could increase red tape on Northern Ireland trade
The chairman of M&S has written to Brexit minister Lord Frost to warn that EU plans to end its stand-off with the UK over Northern Ireland threaten to add to, not ease, red tape. © PA Britain argues the way the EU is applying the Northern Ireland protocol is unsustainabkle Archie Norman said the Brussels offer "could result in worsening friction and cost and a high level of ambiguity and scope for dispute", according to the letter first reported by the Financial Times.Britain is seeking to rewrite the deal which left Northern Ireland within the EU single market for goods even after Brexit.
Amnesty International wrote to Lord Frost expressing concern that Article 2 could be jeopardised if the UK Government follows through with its threat to suspend elements of the protocol amid its dispute with the EU over post-Brexit Irish Sea trade disruption.
In the letter, which was also sent to European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, Amnesty raised concerns that additional commitments on rights contained in the Brexit trade agreement could also unravel if that deal collapses as a consequence of the protocol row.
LORD FROST: We need more urgency from the EU to sustain peace
LORD FROST: Many readers will be wondering why we are once again in argument with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol with threats being made over how we treat part of our own country. How can this be when these issues seemed so recently settled?The answer is that, as Maros Sefcovic, my EU opposite number, acknowledged in a speech on Friday, there are a series of ‘unintended consequences’ from the application of the protocol.The EU began the year by denying there were any problems. Now they admit there are and that fixes are needed.
Lord Frost has now replied to the human rights organisation to provide assurances.
In the letter, seen by the PA news agency, the Brexit minister says the Government is “firmly committed” to Article 2 of the protocol.
“The Government has always strongly supported Article 2 of the protocol, which became operational when the protocol was signed,” he wrote.
“Since that point, the Government has worked closely with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to set up the dedicated mechanism, funding and supporting both commissions and creating a system in which rights are safeguarded.
“We have absolutely guaranteed that there will be no diminution of these rights as a result of the UK leaving the EU.”
He said the UK proposals for securing significant changes to the protocol would leave Article 2 “unchanged”.
“The focus of those proposals is on the arrangements covering trade in goods and on the governance arrangements put in place by the protocol,” he added.
UK might safeguard position in other ways over protocol, says Lord Frost
The Northern Ireland Protocol has been fiercely opposed by unionists and loyalists, who object to the creation of a trade barrier with Great Britain.
In regard to the “non-regression” commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on rights such as labour and environmental, Lord Frost said: “The TCA provides an excellent framework for managing all these issues and is working well.”
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s programme director in Northern Ireland, said while he welcomed Lord Frost’s comments he retained concerns.
“We welcome these assurances from Lord Frost,” he said.
“However, we remain concerned that any unravelling of agreements between the UK and EU threatens all the guarantees within the protocol, including essential human rights protections for people in Northern Ireland.
“Like a game of Jenga there’s a real worry that taking out one vital piece could bring the whole thing tumbling down.”
He said other moves by the Government – such as commissioning a review of the UK Human Rights Act and a proposal to prohibit future prosecutions for Troubles-related crimes – heightened Amnesty’s concerns about the potential consequences of the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute escalating.
Brexit: Gaps between UK and EU on Northern Ireland remain ‘significant’ .
Lord Frost and European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic agreed to continue their endeavours to resolve the dispute in Brussels next week.The Tory peer repeated a threat to unilaterally scrap some of the rules governing trade after no breakthroughs were made during talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in London on Friday.