Planning for no-deal Brexit to recommence as UK move towards triggering article 16

There is a growing expectation among Irish and EU officials that the UK will trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol.
Planning for no-deal Brexit to recommence as UK move towards triggering article 16

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said plans for a no-deal Brexit will recommence as the UK seems set to trigger article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol.

Government and EU officials are continuing efforts to dissuade British prime minister Boris Johnson and his government from invoking the emergency clause which can be triggered if the protocol is causing "serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade".

The Irish Times reports there is a growing expectation among Irish and EU officials that the UK will trigger article 16, which they fear could result in a tit-for-tat between the sides.

The UK feel the grounds for triggering article 16 of the protocol, which was included in the Brexit deal to avoid a hard border between the Republic and the North, have been met, arguing such action would not be illegitimate nor illegal, which the EU disputes.

The Cabinet Brexit sub-committee met on Monday to "essentially dust down and restart contingency preparations," Mr Varadkar said

Despite suggestions the EU is preparing to retaliate with swift measures should the UK trigger article 16, officials said the focus remains on negotiating a solution.

"We have come with a far-reaching package of proposals, so-called bespoke arrangements, to facilitate the implementation of the agreement, and we think that this can be the basis for discussion and agreement," EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said.

However, the UK feel these proposals do not go far enough, still taking issue with the European Court of Justice's role as arbitrator in the agreement - a point the EU does not seem prepared to budge on.

Speaking to an Oireachtas Committee on the matter, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the British government was asking the EU to "deliver the impossible", adding there is now a "very serious risk" of article 16 being triggered.

EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic and his UK counterpart, Lord David Frost are due to meet again later this week.

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