LONDON: The Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, spoke to Vice President Maroš Šefčovič today (Thursday 12 May).
The Foreign Secretary outlined that the UK’s overriding priority is to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland and said that the Northern Ireland Protocol had become the greatest obstacle to forming a Northern Ireland Executive. She also noted that the current situation was causing unacceptable disruption to trade and had created a two-tier system where people in Northern Ireland weren’t being treated the same as everyone else in the UK.
She reminded Vice President Šefčovič of the importance of defending the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and said that the Commission bore a responsibility to show more pragmatism and ensure the Protocol delivered on its original objectives.
The Foreign Secretary reiterated that the UK’s proposals to fix the Protocol, including green and red channel arrangements, backed up by a bespoke data-sharing system, would ensure the removal of trade barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland while protecting the EU single market.
The Foreign Secretary outlined why EU proposals would take us backwards, by creating more checks and paperwork. Vice President Šefčovič confirmed that there was no room to expand the EU negotiating mandate or introduce new proposals to reduce the overall level of trade friction.
The Foreign Secretary noted this with regret and said the situation in Northern Ireland is a matter of internal peace and security for the United Kingdom, and if the EU would not show the requisite flexibility to help solve those issues, then as a responsible government we would have no choice but to act.