Germany and Ireland slam UK plan to break Northern Ireland trade rules

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Germany and Ireland's top diplomats have strongly condemned Britain's planned law to tear up Brexit rules for Northern Ireland, in a joint opinion piece published on Sunday.

‘There is no legal or political justification for unilaterally breaking an international agreement entered into only two years ago,’ German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Irish counterpart Simon Coveney wrote in the Observer newspaper.

‘The tabling of legislation will not fix the challenges around the protocol. Instead, it will create a new set of uncertainties and make it more challenging to find durable solutions,’ they wrote.

With the law, the UK government wants to repeal parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, which it had agreed with the EU during the course of Brexit negotiations.

The settlement is intended to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland - part of the UK - and EU member Ireland, and thus to avoid new conflicts in the former civil war region.

However, it has created a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain - this is a thorn in the side of the UK government.

The EU has threatened London with countermeasures.

Residents and businesses in Northern Ireland benefited from the protocol, and the Northern Ireland economy recovered more quickly from the pandemic than in most other regions of Britain.

EU ministers have acknowledged problems due to the arrangement. But they said the EU had responded to people's concerns by putting forward proposals for easier movement of goods between Northern Ireland and Britain.

‘Unfortunately, the British government chose not to engage in good faith with these proposals. Instead of the path of partnership and dialogue, it has chosen unilateralism,’ the ministers wrote.

source: dpa

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