Suggestions that the UK government could ignore parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol and potentially trigger Article 16 have been called “very irresponsible” by EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness.
s McGuinness told the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the European Union and the UK government should “trust each other” and said “threats are not helpful”.
The Irish politician also suggested that the trade bloc was in “solutions mode” and said she believed there was no appetite in Northern Ireland for removing the protocol.
The comments come after speculation mounted in recent days that the UK government may be on the verge of triggering Article 16, which would suspend aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
It is believed that any move to trigger the clause is likely to see a response from the EU, with a potential legal challenge raised.
Brexit Minister Lord Frost stepped up the UK’s warning on Thursday, with a tweet saying the protocol was “having a continuing negative effect on daily life and business in Northern Ireland” and demanded a response urgently needed to the changes requested by Great Britain.
“The outstanding issues now need to be addressed urgently. My team and I are in daily contact with the EU, but we need a full response to our July command document soon, ”he added.
The protocol clearly has a continuing negative effect on daily life and business in Northern Ireland.
The outstanding issues now need to be addressed urgently. My team and I are in daily contact with the EU, but we need a full response to our July command document soon.
– David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) September 23, 2021
Protocol is the means by which a hard border is avoided on the island of Ireland. He sees Northern Ireland continuing to follow certain EU rules on goods and thus creating a de facto maritime border with Britain, which has angered trade unionists.
The protocol saw months of protests from loyalists who called on the government to trigger Article 16.
“The European Union has been in Northern Ireland, my colleague Maros Sefcovic, he has listened to the real issues of businesses and communities in relation to the practical application of the protocol,” said Ms McGuinness.
“We are in solutions mode and we will make proposals to help where problems are identified. I would like the UK government to work with us on this trip.
“We have an agreement, it will not be renegotiated.”
She added, “I think section 16 is being used in very extreme circumstances. It was interesting that my colleague Vice President Sefcovic didn’t understand in Northern Ireland that they wanted the protocol to be scrapped or put aside, but people want solutions on the ground so I don’t don’t think it’s useful, ”she added.
When asked by Andrew Marr if she agreed that the UK government could “continue to ignore” parts of the protocol, Ms McGuinness said it would be “very irresponsible”.
“We all have a duty to find solutions to the problems facing the people and communities of Northern Ireland in the face of Brexit. They can’t solve us if the atmosphere isn’t friendly, ”she said.
“We’re not in the mood to say no. I hope the UK government and Lord Frost will sincerely believe what we are saying. We don’t need to maintain this divisive atmosphere because Northern Ireland will suffer. “
Speaking on BBC NI’s Sunday Politics program, TUV leader Jim Allister said the “conditions already exist” to trigger Article 16.
“The question in my mind is why the delay,” he said.
“Let’s be clear, triggering Article 16 is only a temporary solution, it is not the end of the matter.
“It is only when we bring the protocol to the point where it is incapable of functioning. By stopping the controls, the protocol effectively becomes a dead letter, it brings it politically to the head.
“It is only when we exert this strong pressure that we will only get the right answer. If this protocol remains, this union is being dismantled day by day by it.”
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