Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

The EU could abandon the entire Brexit agreement with the UK if London continues with its threat to suspend parts of the withdrawal agreement, warned Ireland’s Foreign Secretary.

In some of the strongest public comments to date, which suggested that a full-scale trade war approached, Simon Coveney told broadcaster RTE that the UK was deliberately insisting on a deal he knew it could not get.

Retaliatory action by Brussels would go hand in hand with any action by London, he said. “One is dependent on the other. So if one is set aside, there is a danger that the other will also be set aside by the EU. “

It evokes the ghost of a disintegration in relations between London and Brussels.

The British government has been saying for weeks that the conditions are in place to suspend parts of the Brexit agreement due to major differences over how to make post-Brexit trade rules work for Northern Ireland.

The region has been left within the EU’s customs union and internal market, despite Britain’s exit, under the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit agreement. This was to avoid a land border on the island of Ireland and the need to protect a 1998 peace agreement that ended three decades of sectarian strife.

London dismissed concessions made by Brussels last month it will simplify Irish Sea’s customs controls, saying they do not go far enough, and refuse to accept oversight of the EU Supreme Court’s agreement.

The British Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost and Maros Sefcovic, EU Vice President and Brexit point man, held talks and would meet again in London on 12 November. But while Brussels says it was more than flexible, the UK says it did not go far enough.

Expectations that London will activate Article 16 of the withdrawal agreement – which will effectively derail the deal or parts of it – have increased and a move is widely considered likely in the coming days.

Coveney said it would be seen by the EU as “deliberately a collapse in relations and negotiations between the two sides”.

The EU increasingly believes that London is trying to collapse negotiations in an attempt to get the EU to rewrite the protocol – something that Brussels refused to do. It could eventually make the EU bounce back to say “enough, we are not negotiating with a partner here who is acting in good faith,” he said.

“I think they are deliberately asking for what they know they can not get,” he said, adding London offered nothing but continued to ask for more.

Last week, Irish Taisoeach Micheál Martin criticized London’s position in uncompromising terms.

“It would be irresponsible, unwise and it would be reckless to invoke Article 16. “If such an act were to be taken by the British Government, I think it would have far-reaching implications for the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union,” he said.

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