Alliance Party Deputy Leader and Brexit Spokesperson, Stephen Farry, has accused UK Brexit Negotiator, Lord Frost, of not being serious about reaching a workable agreement around the NI Protocol.
This comes after Lord Frost issued comments to the media that have stressed that that the role of the European Court of Justice would be a redline in negotiations with the EU over the Protocol. These points are to be reinforced in a speech to be given by him on Tuesday in Portugal. This comes ahead of expected proposals from the European Commission later this week.
Dr Farry stressed that no businesses in Northern Ireland have expressed concerns around the role the European Court, and the jurisdiction of the ECJ was agreed by the UK Government in the Withdrawal Agreement.
Stephen Farry stated:
“No Northern Ireland business has raised any issue or concern with me regarding the role of the European Court of Justice in relation to the Protocol.
“Businesses and the people of Northern Ireland do want stability and certainty. We need to see the challenges posed by the NI Protocol mitigated via agreement between the UK and EU. And in turn, the relative opportunities that come from access to both the GB and EU markets.
“This week we are expecting to see pragmatic proposals from the European Union that could do a long way in addressing a number of issues relating to the Protocol.
“Instead, we are seeing the UK’s Brexit Negotiator, Lord Frost, creating new redlines around the role of ECJ.
“It would be ridiculous and outrageous for the prospect of a breakthrough around the Protocol to be scuppered by what many will regard as arcane matter with minimal impact on the challenges being faced at present.
“The role of the ECJ in relation to the Protocol was negotiated by David Frost himself in 2019. If this is such a redline in terms of some outmoded notion of sovereignty today, then why was it acceptable in 2019. The ECJ has made no rulings in relation to the Protocol since then to give any credence to any change of views.
“This approach begs serious questions as to whether the UK Government are serious about actually finding solutions, or instead are more interested in manufacturing some artificial pretext to trigger Article 16.
“And indeed the use of Article 16 in those circumstances would invite more tension with the European Union, and sour relations with the Biden Administration. But it would be the people and businesses of Northern Ireland who suffer.”