Brexit: EU ‘used Irish border as bargaining tool’ says Jenkins
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It is feared eurocrats are insisting the UK bows down to their demands before wrangling over the 2019 Brexit deal’s protocol, to avoid a hard border, can move forward. The tactic was often deployed by former chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who insisted that his terms should be met before talks could move forward. The Frenchman would describe the process as “parallelism”.
During the post-Brexit trade talks, he insisted on all areas of the agreement moving forward in tandem to stop the UK using the row over fishing rights as leverage in other areas of the deal.
Express.co.uk understands European Union officials want Britain to fully enforce customs controls between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain before looking at ways to minimise friction.
There are concerns that if the EU insists on this before talks can move forward, that negotiations could become stuck.
In constant, Britain wants to work on implementing the trade checks while also discussing how to lessen the impact felt by people and businesses in Northern Ireland.
Lord Frost and Maros Sefcovic have agreed a “work plan” to end Brexit row over Northern Ireland (Image: GETTY)
Lord Frost arrives in Brussels for talks with Maros Sefcovic (Image: GETTY)
It comes after Brexit minister Lord Frost and his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic agreed to intensify their efforts to ease tensions in Northern Ireland.
The pair agreed to move forward with a joint “work plan” as met for crunch talks over dinner last night in Brussels.
They both vowed to find a political solution to the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid repeat flare-ups of the event spate of violent disruption in Belfast.
No10 said “some positive momentum had been established” during recent technical talks over the issue, but “a number of difficult issues remained and it was important to continue to discuss them”.
Maros Sefcovic is the EU’s vice-president in charge of Brexit (Image: GETTY)
The EU agreed there had been “productive discussions” and “good technical co-operation on the ground”.
The protocol has been blamed by some for the tension on the ground in Northern Ireland because Unionists feel that it has driven a wedge between them and the rest of the United Kingdom.
The border plan was agreed as part of Boris Johnson’s renegotiation of the 2019 Brexit divorce deal.
To keep the Irish border open, the area effectively remains part of the EU’s single market and some checks are now made on some products arriving from the rest of the UK.
Northern Ireland Protocol explained (Image: EXPRESS)
Mr Sefcovic reiterated that he was left furious by a UK move to unilaterally suspend a number of the EU-ordered controls.
The top eurocrat insisted “that solutions can only be found through joint actions and through joint bodies”.
He told Lord Frost: “Implementation of the protocol is a joint endeavour, which leaves no space for unilateral action.”
The UK’s Brexit chief reassured Brussels that he’s committed to “working through the joint bodies” created by the Brexit deal.
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But he warned that the EU needs to respect the Good Friday Agreement in all of its dimensions.
Lord Frost “underlined that any solutions had to be consistent with the overriding commitments to respecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions and to ensuring minimum disruption everyday lives in Northern Ireland”, according to the Downing Street statement.
Whitehall insiders have previously expressed concerns that the often-bureaucratic approach by the EU risks future violent flare-ups.
Officials fear the bloc underestimates Unionist anger over customs controls between Britain and Northern Ireland.