The Northern Ireland Protocol has prompted Brussels to fear a trade war.
If Britain fails to implement restrictions on goods entering Northern Ireland as part of the Brexit “divorce” deal, the EU has vowed to unleash a trade war against it.
After failed discussions in London, European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the EU’s patience with the UK was wearing “very, very thin.”
His warning came as Brexit Minister Lord Frost declined to rule out the possibility that the UK may unilaterally postpone the end-of-month implementation of inspections on British-made sausages and other cold foods.
Lord Frost accused Brussels of taking a “very purist” approach to the execution of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after three-and-a-half hours of deliberations at Admiralty House.
Mr Sefcovic reiterated in a press conference thereafter that the EU had showed “enormous tolerance” in the face of “many and significant shortcomings” in the UK’s adherence to the agreement.
Any additional backtracking, he threatened, will be greeted with a resolute response.
“Of course, as you would expect, the fact that I indicated that we are at a fork in the road indicates that our patience is wearing thin, and as a result, we must weigh all of our options,” he said.
“I was talking about legal action, arbitration, and, of course, cross-retaliation,” she explained.
President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, issued a statement saying that the US does not want to see any action that jeopardizes the Northern Ireland peace process, which the Protocol is supposed to preserve.
Mr. Sullivan said it is up to Mr. Biden and Mr. Johnson to identify an agreed-upon path forward ahead of Mr. Biden’s meeting with Mr. Johnson on Thursday, before the G7 summit in Cornwall.
“President Biden thinks and has stated that the Northern Ireland Protocol, as part of the UK-EU deal, is important to safeguarding the spirit, promise, and future of the Good Friday Agreement,” Mr. Sullivan said. (This is a brief piece.)