Brexit has had worse impact on UK than Covid says Beaune
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Brussels has been putting together a package of sanctions that would enable the bloc to hit back at Britain if it followed through with a threat to unilaterally suspend Northern Ireland trade checks. European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic had told EU ambassadors the range of punishments – which include slapping UK exports with tariffs or suspending all of the Brexit trade deal, would be presented to EU member states this week. But four EU officials have told Politico the presentation of the retaliatory options had been delayed after the UK last week calmed threats of triggering Article 16 of the Protocol as early as this week.
The UK will again hold talks with the EU in Brussels later this week – something that might continue in the weeks leading up to Christmas – but has still retained the threat of triggering Article 16 at a later stage.
Following a meeting with Mr Sefcovic on Tuesday, Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney retained hope of progress in upcoming talks, and said: “What we don’t want now is a focus on the consequences of triggering Article 16.
“What we want and need this week is a focus on solutions to outstanding issues.”
But on Monday, Mr Sefcovic told a special committee of the Irish upper house if Britain does suspend Northern Ireland trade checks, the EU “would have to consider all tools at our disposal”.
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‘I don’t detect Government is resiling from a commitment to trigger Article 16’
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson does not believe the UK Government has abandoned its position in Northern Ireland Protocol talks with the EU.
On Friday, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said he welcomed what he described as a “change in tone” from the UK in talks over the Protocol.
Mr Donaldson said on Tuesday prior to a meeting with Lord Frost: “The Prime Minister said no later than last evening that it is entirely valid for the UK Government to trigger Article 16 in circumstances where agreement has not been reached in these negotiations.
“I’m taking the Government at what they were saying as being their position and I will test that further this evening with Lord Frost.
“But I don’t detect that the Government is resiling from a commitment to trigger Article 16, or to take other decisive action to restore Northern Ireland’s place fully within the UK internal market, if these talks fail to reach an outcome in a short period of time.”
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