Johnson renews threat to EU over trade with Northern Ireland

ROME (AP) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday renewed Britain’s threat to sever part of the Brexit divorce deal he signed with the European Union unless a dispute over trade with Northern Ireland is not resolved.

The UK has threatened to trigger an emergency break clause in the deal that allows either party to suspend the deal in dire circumstances if there is no quick fix. This would lead to legal action from the EU and potentially economic sanctions that could escalate into a trade war.

Johnson said the answers to Northern Ireland’s trade problems with the rest of the UK “should be straightforward.”

“I think we need to fix it. I am not convinced that the solutions we see solve the problem, ”he told reporters as he traveled to Rome for a Group of 20 summit. ‘territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and the internal market of the United Kingdom. “

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and shares a border with Ireland, a member of the EU. It remains within the EU’s single market with no EU tariffs for goods, even though the UK left the 27-nation bloc at the end of 2020. This special status ensures that there is a open border on the island of Ireland – a key pillar of Northern Ireland. peace process since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. But it means a new customs border in the Irish Sea for goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, even if they are part of the same country .

This has created red tape for businesses and caused problems with some goods reaching Northern Ireland. The new deals have also angered British Unionists in Northern Ireland, who say the controls are undermining Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and upsetting the delicate political balance on which peace rests.

The EU accuses Britain of trying to renegotiate a legally binding agreement it signed less than a year ago; some EU officials say this shows the UK government cannot be trusted. The bloc, however, agreed to make changes to the deal, proposing to cut controls on food, plants and animals entering Northern Ireland by up to 80% and cut red tape for businesses in half. transport.

Britain has welcomed the proposals, but also demands that the EU’s highest court be stripped of its role in resolving any dispute over the deal and replaced with independent arbitration – an idea the bloc categorically rejects .

The two sides are in talks, but the UK says substantial differences remain.

Discussions are to continue next week. The EU on Friday urged Britain to “engage constructively” with the bloc’s proposals.

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