Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will meet for a dinner during which they will try to reach a breakthrough in a post-Brexit trade agreement on 9 December 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.
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As part of its departure from the EU, Britain agreed to carry out controls on goods moving across the Irish Sea, going from Scotland, Wales and England to Northern Ireland. The latter has remained part of the EU’s internal market for goods in order to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland in the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol.
The United Kingdom had until the end of this month to carry out these checks, but it has decided to extend the implementation period until October. A step that the European Commission, the executive of the EU, said is breaking their agreement and thus international law.
Maros Sefcovic, Vice-President of the European Commission, “expressed the EU’s strong concern at the United Kingdom’s unilateral action as a breach of the relevant substantive provisions of the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol,” the Commission said in a statement on Wednesday before a call. between EU and UK representatives.
“The European Commission will respond to this development in accordance with the legal means established,” the statement said.
The UK government has said it informed the Commission “earlier in the week” before publishing the announcement that extending the grace period for implementation is a “temporary” technical step “to allow more time for companies such as supermarkets and parcel suppliers to implement the new requirements. “
Supermarkets and other food retailers need health certificates when shipping animal products.
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s head of foreign affairs, said in a statement that Britain’s decision was “deeply unhelpful in building the relationship of trust and partnership that is central to the implementation of the protocol”.
“The Irish Government’s focus remains on ensuring that the Protocol, as an international agreement concluded by the EU and the UK, is fully implemented. It is the agreed solution to the problems that Brexit created on the island of Ireland,” he added.
Coveney said he expressed regret over the move during a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and Lord Forst, the Prime Minister who is responsible for EU-UK relations.
This is not the first time that Brussels and London have disagreed on their post-Brexit arrangements.
In October last year, the EU launched a lawsuit against Britain after the government tabled a bill that would have violated the same agreement on Northern Ireland.
In the end, after several weeks of meetings and discussions, Britain decided to drop the controversial clauses in the bill, which paved the way for a trade agreement agreed on 24 December.