France, Germany fear EU protocol on Northern Ireland threatens single market


The vice-president of the European Commission has announced his intention to remove the majority of checks on British goods entering the province under a revised protocol on Northern Ireland.

He proposed cutting controls on food and plant products by up to 80% and customs formalities in half, as well as changing the bloc’s rules to protect supplies of British-made medicines in the region.

European sources told the Telegraph that if member states overwhelmingly support the compromise, attitudes may soon change if it doesn’t lead to a deal quickly.

It is understood that Emmanuel Macron is on the verge of crushing further concessions because he would not want to be seen too lenient towards the UK in the run-up to the French elections next April, which urged Britain to strike a deal as soon as possible.

Although the UK has opposed threats to trigger Article 16 to create a negotiating space, EU diplomats have insisted they are ready to respond to any attempt to detonate the EU. Brexit deal. A source said: “It is important that London does not underestimate the EU’s determination to react quickly and effectively to such a decision.”

An EU diplomat added: “Now is the time to strike a deal. The closer we get to the French elections, the more difficult it will be for the Commission to come up with compromises. “

A number of internal bloc-wide issues, such as skyrocketing energy prices and the threat of ‘Polexit’, mean there is little appetite to accommodate new UK demands on Brexit agreements.

“Brexit is a nuisance. Nobody wants to talk about it ‘

A second diplomat said: ‘Brexit is a nuisance. Nobody wants to talk about Brexit. No one has the time and space to consider it.

“Britain won the boredom war. She has shown that she can handle more boredom than Brussels, which is no small feat.

A lack of will to engage in Brexit allowed the Commission to present the concessions package, which government sources say went further than expected from the bloc.

João Vale de Almeida, EU Ambassador to the UK, said Brussels had gone ‘extra mile’ to address trade disruptions caused by the protocol, raising concerns that Northern Ireland could become a smuggling route towards the block.

However, there remain marked differences on the role of the European Court of Justice in monitoring the implementation of EU rules in the province.