Macron warns Johnson to keep his promise to Northern Ireland
French President Emmanuel Macron warned Boris Johnson that unless the British leader believes in keeping the promise of the Northern Ireland Brexit agreement, efforts to rebuild the relationship between Paris and London will fail.
At the breakfast meeting during the G7 summit in Cornwall, Macron made it clear that he hopes Johnson can honor the Brexit agreement reached with the European Union in December last year.
The European Union threatened that if Johnson unilaterally violated the border inspection commitments in the Northern Ireland Agreement, which is part of his Brexit agreement, it would punish the United Kingdom — including imposing trade sanctions.
Macron is regarded by Downing Street as the toughest EU leader on this issue. Debates between French presidents and British prime ministers at global summits are common – and they happen frequently at home.
But Macron’s warning underscores the EU’s seriousness towards the growing crisis in Northern Ireland.
US President Joe Biden has expressed deep concern about the future of the peace process.
At the breakfast meeting in English, a source at the Elysee Palace stated that Macron told Johnson that he was ready to re-establish relations with London and that Britain and France had many common interests.
“However, the President strongly emphasized that this re-engagement requires Britain to fulfill its commitments to Europeans and respect the Brexit agreement,” a source at the Elysee Palace said.
The agreement requires the United Kingdom to inspect certain goods transported between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to prevent them from crossing the open border into EU member Ireland and entering the single market without inspection.
The introduction of effective trade borders within British territory angered pro-British unionists in Northern Ireland and increased tensions in the region.
Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet that the Good Friday agreement and peace on the island of Ireland are crucial.
“We negotiated an agreement to retain this, and it was signed and approved by the UK and the European Union,” she said. “We want to establish the best possible relationship with the UK. Both parties must implement what we have agreed upon. The EU is fully aligned in this regard.”
Johnson argued that the EU has not compromised on the way the agreement is applied, and there will be a conflict over the inspection of frozen meat products in the Irish Sea later this month.
The EU bans the import of frozen meat, including sausages and ground beef. The “grace period” that allows the continued sale of frozen UK meat products at NI will expire at the end of June.
Johnson reserves the right to unilaterally ignore the ban. The European Union warned that under the terms of the EU/Brexit trade and cooperation agreement, this action may trigger retaliation.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic confirmed last week that this could include trade sanctions, triggering concerns about trade wars, or-tabloid headlines-a “sausage war”.
Johnson also held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Lein on Saturday morning.