EU hits out at Lord Frost's Northern Ireland demands
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The European Commission’s Brexit negotiator has called on Britain and Brexit Minister Lord David Frost to “double their efforts” in the ongoing negotiations. The negotiators are due to meet on Friday but relations may have soured slightly after the EU’s negotiator Maros Sefcovic accused Britain of “political posturing” and called for the UK to address the issues with “more urgency”.
The European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic has accused the UK of working slowly towards a solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol problem.
The role of EU judges as relates to Northern Ireland has been a sticking point for any potential deal.
On Thursday, insiders said a deal was within reach, according to talks which now appear likely to stretch into the new year.
However, despite crunch talks taking place on Friday, London and Brussels failed to make a final deal.
The UK has argued it is unfair and impractical for EU lawmakers to maintain such authority over Britain.
However, the Commission has maintained the importance of the Luxembourg court’s oversight role.
Mr Sefcovic told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show he feels as those he is “the only one who is pushing for urgent solutions”.
In his confrontational comments condemning his UK counterpart, Lord David Frost, the Brussels Minister called on Britain’s negotiating team to “double their efforts” to secure a breakthrough.
The Commission Vice-President did share some optimism, claiming talks had made “some progress on Friday”.
If talks continued to have “political posturing and bringing new problems to the table, I don’t think we will solve the most pressing issues for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Mr Sefcovic added: “I’m sure that if Lord Frost and the UK would double their efforts … we can resolve all the outstanding issues to the satisfaction of the people of Northern Ireland.”
He added he has been pushing forward urgent solutions for the uninterrupted supply of medicines since June 30.
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The comments came after an article penned by Lord Frost was published by the Mail on Sunday.
The UK’s Brexit Minister called for “more ambition and more urgency”.
He added the core of the problem is issues with goods reaching Northern Ireland as they should – without facing increased costs and delays.
Writing for the Mail on Sunday, Lord Frost wrote: “The current problems with the protocol go to the heart of our territorial integrity, of what it means to be one country and one market. They will not just disappear.
“I still hope the EU can show the ambition needed to fix the problem by agreement. If they can’t, of course, we will have to safeguard our position in other ways.
“For my part, I am working as hard as possible to reach a deal. If we can, we can move on from the current frictions and get back to what we always wanted – good relations and free trade with our closest friends and neighbours.”
The UK revealed plans to authorise new coronavirus and cancer drugs for use in Northern Ireland in a bid to seal an agreement.
Northern Ireland follows EU pharmaceutical rules under the protocol, which creates a customs border with Britain and prevents a hard Irish border.
But there are fears that the province could miss out on life-saving treatments because of the Brexit treaty.
Brussels now accepts the UK medicines regulator, not EU supervisors, should have authority over new medicines in Northern Ireland.
However, London reportedly wants more practical details before accepting any deal.
In a sign of improved EU-UK relations, Michael Gove said on Friday that Britain was “confident” it can make progress in Brexit talks over the Northern Ireland Protocol without triggering Article 16 of the treaty.
Brussels has repeatedly warned against triggering Article 16.
Negotiations continue next week and Lord Frost and Mr Sefcovic will meet in London next Friday.
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