Northern Ireland Update
Sign up for myFT Daily Digest and be the first to learn about the news in Northern Ireland.
Brussels has suspended legal action against the British government in an attempt to ease tensions regarding customs regulations for goods entering Northern Ireland.
The European Commission said on Tuesday that it would freeze the March infringement procedures triggered by the United Kingdom’s violation of the terms of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland agreement, which requires inspections of goods entering Northern Ireland from the British mainland.
When Brussels decided to suspend legal action, the EU and the United Kingdom became increasingly nervous about rules aimed at preventing hard borders on the island of Ireland.
The British government last week requested the removal of the EU Supreme Court’s role in interpreting the protocol as part of the comprehensive reform of the treaty agreed by the two parties in 2019.
Britain argues that customs inspections led to trade Friction and social instability For businesses and citizens In Northern Ireland. “We cannot continue as we do now, the European Union Minister Lord David Frost told the British Parliament last week.
Brussels has Resolutely refuse Renegotiation of the agreement, but chose to shelve the infringement procedures to avoid aggravating tensions with London.
The committee stated that the suspension will help “provide the necessary space to reflect on these issues and find a lasting solution to the implementation of the agreement.”
An EU diplomat stated that the decision was intended to prevent a series of grace periods for inspections of goods entering Northern Ireland from expiring in September and prevent further deterioration of relations.
The commission told EU diplomats that the United Kingdom continues to threaten to use a mechanism under the Brexit Treaty, article 16, which allows any party to unilaterally suspend the use of goods if it believes that the goods cause serious economic and social damage to the United Kingdom. Inspection. The area.
Frost said last week that the government had withdrawn from triggering Article 16 after previously stated that it would consider “all options.”
An EU diplomat said: “Anything can provide Frost with the match he wants to light-including infringement procedures.”
British”Order paper“A series of requirements were put forward, such as abolishing the role of the European Court of Justice, a suspension of customs inspections of goods that companies can ensure that the final destination is Northern Ireland instead of the EU single market, and a thorough reform of the country-the aid subsidy system.
Brussels hesitates He also accused the United Kingdom of violating an internationally binding agreement reached with the Boris Johnson administration that only came into effect at the beginning of this year.
The commission told EU diplomats that it is impossible for the United Kingdom to require a dual supervision system in Northern Ireland and to abolish the role of the European Court of Justice. An EU official stated that Britain’s request to abandon customs inspections “needs trust, and all trust has disappeared”.