Coveney warns EU patience wearing thin with UK post-Brexit demands

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said each time the EU attempts to propose a solution to Brexit issues, the UK government are dismissive.
Coveney warns EU patience wearing thin with UK post-Brexit demands

Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has warned the EU was very close to refusing the latest demands from the British government over Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Each time the EU comes forward with new proposals over the Protocol, “they are dismissed by the UK” before they are published, the Minister told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“This has been the position all year - each time that the European Union comes forward with new ideas, new proposals to try to solve problems, they're dismissed before they're released and that's happening again this week, but this week it's even more serious,” he said.

Mr Coveney added that Maros Sefcovic and his negotiating team had been working on behalf of the EU for weeks, if not months, preparing the package due to be launched on Wednesday, dealing with difficulties caused by the Protocol.

The plan includes provisions for medicines and chilled meats, as well as a way to streamline customs systems to reduce checks where possible.

"These are the practical measures that the European Union is going to introduce on Wednesday," Mr Coveney said.

"Mr Sefcovic has worked hard to bring proposals, having listened to businesses and reps in Northern Ireland. When David Frost accuses me of raising issues on social media, it's a bit rich quite frankly, because he is briefing British media effectively to say 'well the EU can make changes they need to make, but actually it's not enough, we want more' and now it's the ECJ (European Court of Justice) that is the main issue.”

Mr Coveney also queried why the UK had signed up to the Protocol if the ECJ was a red line.

“If the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, in terms of the functioning of the EU single market, was an absolute red line for the UK, why did they sign up to an agreement that allowed the ECJ to effectively be the final arbitrar for the implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland?

“This is being seen across the European Union as the same pattern over and over again. The EU tries to solve problems, the UK dismisses the solutions before they're even published and asks for more," Mr Coveney said.

Tension

"As a result of that, I think people are asking themselves the question: 'Do the UK government want to solve these problems in the interest of Northern Ireland and businesses there, or is this going to be a continuing source of tension between the UK and the EU?'

“Unfortunately if it is, Ireland is the country that suffers most, North and South, as a result of that because of the polarising impact and politics of Northern Ireland on the Protocol and the deep concerns that many in the Unionist community has in relation to it,” he added.

The British government seemed to be shifting the goalposts, he said, but the EU could not compromise any more.

When asked if it had been “not very diplomatic” to tweet on Saturday night about the protocol, Mr Coveney said: “I don't think it was very diplomatic, but I don't think it was diplomatic either to brief the main British newspapers on a speech that David Frost intends to give in Portugal tomorrow.”

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