The United Kingdom has asked the European Union to use “common sense” and refrain from threatening legal action in a trade dispute.
The EU has threatened legal action as a result of a delay in mandatory checks for products moving between the UK and the EU at their only land border in Northern Ireland, a step that the UK has sought to achieve a compromise using “common sense” on Wednesday.
In the face of escalating tensions in Northern Ireland, Britain’s top negotiator, David Frost, advocated for a resolution with the EU. Product shortages have occurred as a result of new laws and border checks at the UK-EU border.
“Further threats of legal action and trade retribution from the EU will make life much more difficult for the shopper in Strabane who can’t buy their favorite product,” Frost added, referring to a town in Northern Ireland. “What is required to overcome the difficulties before us is pragmatism and common sense answers. This effort is critical, and it is becoming increasingly urgent.”
The EU’s legal threats come after the UK unilaterally extended the grace period for several supermarket products, delaying needed inspections for six months.
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Frost made the remark after his European Union counterpart said the group was prepared to act “firmly and resolutely” if the United Kingdom failed to follow through on its obligations under the deal. Frost and Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s senior negotiator, will meet in London on Wednesday.
The Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the trade agreement, was created to safeguard the region’s peace process.
Britain wants to reach an agreement, but the EU insists the new restrictions are necessary to defend the bloc’s single market. Both sides are concerned that the tensions may lead to a resurgence of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.
The fact that both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland were members of the European Union underlay the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which restored peace to Northern Ireland. That made it possible for trade to flow freely between Ireland and Northern Ireland, stimulating economic growth and creating jobs on both sides of the border.
In an effort to keep the border open, the EU and the U.K. agreed that Northern Ireland would remain part of the European single market after Brexit. But that means EU rules on issues such as food safety still apply in. This is a brief summary.