Ahead of crunch negotiations on the Northern Ireland protocol next week between Lord Frost and EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic, the EU also accused Mr Frost of “playing politics” with Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements. The protocol was one of the main issues surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU and was agreed as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
A new raft of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne under the terms of the protocol have sparked anger among unionists as Northern Ireland remains in the EU’s single market.
Brussels is hoping to secure an agreement on the Protocol this month which will include a roadmap setting out how the UK will implement the protocol.
The Express understands Brussels is keen to show businesses North of the border in Ireland that the Commission “cares” and wants to solve the problem.
Some 26 issues have been identified by negotiators with the most contentious include sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards check and medicine regulation but progress has only been made in three areas.
EU Commissioner for Capital Markets Mairead McGuinness claimed Lord Frost and UK ministers of trying to “turn the tables” in relation to Northern Ireland.
She said the UK was “playing a very dangerous game” with a tough approach and accused the UK government of inflaming tensions in the North.
She added to the Irish Independent: “You can’t wash your hands of an agreement that you shaped and made and signed.
“It just isn’t credible to do that. And I’m sure there are other countries, including the US, that are looking at what the UK are doing and maybe asking questions about the credibility of doing any deals with the United Kingdom.”
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Lord Frost has made clear the checks which take place on goods coming into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK could impact the peace process agreed under the Good Friday Agreement.
New DUP leader Edwin Poots also had a meeting with Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin about tensions surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol this week.
Mr Poots made his first visit to Government Buildings in Dublin after becoming party leader after warning that relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic had “never been as bad”.
Following the meeting, Mr Martin said that he recognised the “genuine concerns” among unionists and loyalists about the protocol.