Coveney criticses UK's 'rhetoric' over Northern Ireland protocol

He warned: “We’re not going to do it under the threat of British Government’s language and briefing of the media which says if the EU doesn’t give us everything we want, well, then we’re going to legislate ourselves to override international law.”
Coveney criticses UK's 'rhetoric' over Northern Ireland protocol

By PA

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the UK and the EU can still agree a way forward to fix some of the issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

But he warned: “We’re not going to do it under the threat of British Government’s language and briefing of the media which says if the EU doesn’t give us everything we want, well, then we’re going to legislate ourselves to override international law.”

Asked on RTE radio about the possibility of a trade war between the two sides if the protocol is scrapped, Mr Coveney said he does not want to “ratchet up language”.

He said the EU wants to focus on “compromise, flexibility, partnership”.

“Clearly, if the UK breaches international law, if it undermines a protocol that is about protecting the integrity of the EU single market, then the EU can’t ignore that,” he said.

He criticised the recent “rhetoric” from the British Government over post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

His comments come amid concern in EU capitals that the UK is set to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“The EU simply expects that international agreement be honoured and is willing to be extremely flexible in how it is implemented,” he said.

Mr Coveney rejected the suggestion that the EU has refused to compromise, pointing to proposals from Brussels which he said will significantly reduce some checks in the Irish Sea.

“The majority of MLAs that have been elected to the new Assembly want to see the protocol work,” he told RTE radio.

“There is a way forward, there is a landing ground.”

The UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned the EU that if it does not show the “requisite flexibility” over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the UK will have “no choice but to act”, the Foreign Office has said.

Following a call with European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, a Foreign Office spokesman said Ms Truss made clear the UK’s “over-riding priority is to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland”.

Ms Truss said that the protocol was “the greatest obstacle” to forming a new Northern Ireland executive.

The spokesman said: “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.”

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