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UK and EU ‘cannot go on as we are’ with NI protocol, says Brexit minister

Written by on 21/07/2021

Brexit minister Lord Frost has said the UK and the EU “cannot go on as we are” with the current Northern Ireland Protocol arrangements, but that “now is not the time” to invoke Article 16.

Lord Frost told peers that the protocol arrangements need “significant change” and that proposals from the government will bring a “new balance” to the mechanism.

It comes as the UK government looks to overhaul post-Brexit trading arrangements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to ensure the smooth moving of goods.

Lord Frost admitted that the burdens imposed by the Northern Ireland Protocol “have been a source of considerable and ongoing disruption to lives and livelihoods”.

“We have seen reductions in supermarket product lines, we have seen more than 200 suppliers decide they would no longer sell to Northern Ireland,” he said.

“We have seen difficulties not just on the famous chilled meats issue but on medicines, on pets, on movements of live animals, on seeds, on plants and on many others.”

But the Brexit minister stopped short of entirely ripping up the document or calling for the Article 16 provision – which enables either the UK or the EU to suspend part of the arrangements in extreme circumstances – to be triggered.

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Lord Frost said “it is clear that the circumstances exist to justify the use of Article 16” but that “it is not the right moment to do so”.

He added: “Instead, we see an opportunity to proceed differently, to find a new path, to seek to agree with the EU through negotiations a new balance in our arrangements covering Northern Ireland to the benefit of all.”

If unresolved, the issue risk “being felt in the fabric of our Union too”, Lord Frost warned.

 Sky News

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